Don't fear the kohlrabi — it comes in peace


Kohlrabi. That often-massive light green orb with tentacles, excavated from under your piles of chard and kale at the bottom of the CSA box. “Weird,” “alien,” and “compost pile-bound” can be heard when describing it. But beneath its rough exterior lies a tasty ingredient for your stir frys and slaws that will leave you wishing for more.


A member of the same family of vegetables as cabbage and kale, kohlrabi is high in both vitamins C and B6, as well as many other vitamins and minerals. It’s readily available during Minnesota summers at farmer’s markets, co-ops, and occasionally more traditional markets, and it’s usually inexpensive.


I’ve heard a lot of people compare kohlrabi to radishes. I can understand the comparison due to the crisp, white inner flesh of the vegetable and the sometimes slightly peppery taste. Personally, I think it tastes more like the peeled stalks of broccoli, which is why I tend to use it similarly.


Straight Up: Peel away the tough, green outer part of the vegetable, thinly slice the inner flesh, sprinkle on a little salt and enjoy it raw. 


Shred It: Kohlrabi is excellent in slaws. Use it as a substitute for cabbage or broccoli or mix it right in with your standard vegetables for something a little different. 


Bake It: One of my favorite ways to eat kohlrabi is as oven fries. Peel it, cut it into fry-like strips and then toss the strips in olive oil, salt, and the pepper of your choice (I like ground habanero.) Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes, flipping once, until golden brown around the edges. 


Stick it In A Fritter: My tried and true solution to anything that will hold up to a good shred or julienne is to make it into a fritter. Here’s a Curried Carrot and Kohlrabi Fritter that’s a great side dish or makes a quick and easy weeknight vegetarian dinner all on its own.


Curried Carrot-Kohlrabi Fritters

1 kohlrabi bulb, peeled

1 large carrot, peeled

2 green onions, whites and greens thinly sliced 

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon yellow curry powder

1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour

1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder

About 1⁄2 cup canola oil


Using the large holes on a box grater, grate your kohlrabi. Gather up the pieces between layers of paper towel or a clean dish towel and squeeze to remove as much access liquid as possible. Place in a bowl and repeat the process with the grated carrot. (Warning: It may stain your dishtowels if you go that route.) 


To the carrot and kohlrabi add the sliced onions, egg, salt, pepper, flour and baking powder and toss gently until thoroughly combined. 


Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet. Scoop about 1⁄4 cup portions of the fritter mixture and gently flatten between your hands (the mixture will be sticky, but this part does not have to look pretty. You can flatten them in the pan, but be careful because they tend to splatter a bit.) Add to the hot oil and cook until golden, about 3 minutes on each side. 


Remove to a cooling rack or a plate lined with towels to absorb the excess oil. Top with yogurt-herb sauce (below) and serve warm or at room temperature. 


For topping:

1⁄2 cup low-fat Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons light sour cream

1 tablespoon chopped dill

1 tablespoon chopped parsley 

The juice from one half lemon 

Salt, pepper


Mix all of these things together. Eat with spoon or use as a delicious topping for the above said fritters or any number of other yummy things.


Christina Vanoverbeke is a Minneapolis transplant, by way of Youngstown, Ohio, and Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz. She is a reformed newspaper reporter turned freelance Jill of all trades. She works in health and wellness fundraising by day and runs the cooking blog Cautiously Domestic by night. Look for her in your local farmer’s market – she’ll be the one talking some patient farmer’s ear off.