WTF? (What’s This Food?) is an occasional column where we see something unusual in the grocery store or growers market and ask “What’s This Food?” We purchase the food, research history and recipes on the internet, and prepare a dish with it.
During a summer visit to the Media Growers Market, I spied what looked like an alien vegetable. This strange root resembled the little green men from the classic movie, Toy Story. It made me ask myself, “What’s This Food?”
It turned out to be the root vegetable called Kohlrabi, according to Jessica Cummings of Hillside Farm. Jessica explained kohlrabi is “similar to a broccoli stem, more like a radish kind of texture.” She told me kohlrabi can be eaten raw, you can “dip it into things, like you would an apple, dip into hummus or yogurt,” or also cooked or sauteed. “I use garlic and it’s like a roasted turnip.” She also told me the skin is tough and not really good for eating. “I shave off the outer skin—chop it or shave it.” I purchased a rather large kohlrabi for $2 and went on my way.
After the Growers Market, I stopped in at Pinocchio’s Beer Garden To Go and the guys behind the counter stared at the gargantuan vegetable I held in my hand. “What is that?” Dan Shaw asked. Let’s just say that kohlrabi is definitely a conversation starter.
Once home, I researched kohlrabi and learned it’s a food staple in Kashmir and is also widely used in India. The word kohlrabi is German. Kohl means cabbage and rabi is a Swiss German variant for turnip.
Kohlrabi is so dense it is hard to slice. You have to be careful not to have the knife roll off into your finger. It is crunchier than an apple, but it made a good base for dipping into hummus. I could see it sliced up next to carrots and broccoli for dipping. I sliced up half and sauteed the pieces in a bit of oil and garlic, throwing in some sliced onions as well. It made an interesting side dish—the texture reminded me a little of water chestnuts. It’s not the type of vegetable I could see using every day in meals, but I will definitely give kohlrabi a try again.
During my research, I came across an interesting piece in the New York Times, which includes a recipe for Kohlrabi Home Fries, so that could be next!