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My New Favorite Thing

Posted Oct 31 2008 2:51am

So, six years in CSAs and I had yet to come to terms with kohlrabi. In all honesty, I had only gotten one in my box here and there over the years, and had promptly let them rot in the fridge. They're ugly things, not the least bit appetizing. Yet, this week, when four of them showed up, I knew it was time to embrace the challenge.

So I sliced up the globe and tossed the pieces with garlic and olive oil in my cast iron pan on the top of the stove, followed by the chopped-up greens and some Himalayan pink salt. And then, the taste test . . .

One bite, and I immediately screamed for my older daughter, the one who will eat absolutely everything I make.

"Come here! You have to taste this!"

She and I stood there, as we tend to, and picked directly from the pan, oohing and aahing, our eyes wide with recognition that we'd stumbled onto something wonderful.

And then, the big test. My younger daughter.

"Taste this," I said, handing a sliver of apple-like vegetable to her.

"What is it?" she asked.

"Kohlrabi."

"Call Robbie? Why should I call Robbie?" she asked, referring to our neighbor.

"No, kohlrabi, k-o-h-l-r-a-b-i."

She ate. She thought a moment, as we held our breath, wanting her to join us in celebration of this delicious new find, but also realizing that we would then have to share.

And then, she finally proclaimed, "I like it!"

So, onto the homemade whole-wheat pizza crust it went, along with chopped butternut squash, goat cheese and roasted pumkin seeds!

Kohlrabi is a member of the brassica family and if you close your eyes, it does taste like a bit sweeter broccoli stalk. But it looks like an apple when you slice it, and it crunches when you bite into it, so it's hard to get that association out of your head. It is mild and wonderful and I don't know where I have been my whole life that I have missed this remarkable food. It is perhaps My New Favorite Thing.

Low in calories, high in dietary fiber, potassium, vitamins A and C, folic acid and calcium, kohlrabi has historical significance in Italy, France and Germany, plus shows up on plates in Israel, China, Africa and especially in Kashmir (where it is called Monj). Kohlrabi was mentioned in the writings of . . . yes, you guessed it! Pliny the Elder! (don't worry, I won't go on another Pliny the Elder kick this year!)

My friend Robin grew up eating it in Michigan but tells me it is quite expensive in the stores so she stopped buying it years ago. In the stores? I've never seen this thing. And chances are, the ones they sell in the store are too big to be as tender as the four small ones we devoured last night.

So, if you want to add an economical, nutritious, delicious addition to your meals, dig those kohlrabis out of your CSA box and enjoy. I also hear they are easy to grow just about anywhere, so you know what's going in my spring garden.

And speaking of economical, green choices, here are 50 Must-Read Blogs for the Conscientious Organic Shopper from a new site called Organicism (I can barely write that site name without blushing) And guess what's included? Yep! FoodShed Planet!

My big economical tip? If it comes in your CSA box and you don't know what to do with it, chop it, bake it, and put it on a pizza!
Nurturing sustainability close to home and around the world. (And other food for thought!)

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