This weekend was pretty slow at markets. I’m going with the ‘everyone is
having fun away while we’re stuck working’ theory. So I had some time to chit-chat with customers and that was helpful because we had a new veggie this week: kohlrabi! I was pleasantly surprised how many people just grabbed one or two even though they had no idea what it was or what to do with it.
We used to grow kohlrabi when I was a kid and I have such fond memories of it. Back then, and I’m not saying just how long ago that is, but let’s assume it was the mid-70s, my parents had a garden right next to the house. Yes, we had the farm — but it wasn’t ‘ours’. My grandmother owned the farm at that time and we grew onions exclusively.
Any veggies that my mother wanted to water-bath, pressure can or freeze for storage and winter eating had to be grown in the small plot beside the house. This is where we grew a few rows of sweet corn, a row or two of shell peas, carrots, green AND yellow wax beans, and of course, the kohlrabi. I remember we had broccoli in there at some point, but when my mother saw the green worms floating out of them when she washed the heads, we abandoned all thoughts of growing broccoli.
I must admit, it ruined my taste for the little crucifer for quite a long time.
The memory of my old favorite garden snack, the kohlrab-a-pop, was always in the back of my mind. I remember my father pulling the root out of the soft black dirt and, with his ever-present pocket knife, scraping the root clean. Then he’d clip off the leaves and peel the thick woody skin off all of the bulb except the bottom. He’d hand it to us with his dirty calloused hands and we’d happily hold our ‘pops’ by the root and nibble away at the crisp, juicy, white interior just like little mice… because we still had baby teeth back then and in all honesty, the marks they leave DO have a rodent-like appearance.
I have wanted to share this with Thomas for years but we never grew kohlrabi. Last fall I snagged a small packet of seeds from Adam’s and Dad planted them in the greenhouse. We thought they were planted in time, but with the days being much shorter in November than in June, they never developed the cute little bulb that kohlrabi is known for. So no kohlrab-a-pops in 2010. Then in January we placed our seed order for 2011 and Kasha snuck in her request for this old-time favorite.
So here we are in July and we are JUST NOW able to bring these alien-looking bulbs to market. I’ve been checking on them for the last month or so and finally around the middle of June I introduced The Boy to kohlrab-a-pops.
He wasn’t as impressed as I’d hoped he’d be.
But he liked it, and continued to eat it after the first bite, so that’s good. And when I made them for dinner that night with pasta and pan-fried chickpeas, he ate it then too. He told me the leaves (mild kale flavor) “taste like nothing”. Well good. If they’re not offensive, keep eating them. They’re good for you.
And he did [praise to the heavens]. It was a good night in our house.
Ok, then — kohlrab-a-pops and pasta are good ways to eat this freaky mutant broccoli-cabbage. What else can I suggest to potential customers?
Full-circle and we’re back to Saturday. I was helping a lovely woman in Pleasantville. After weighing them, I put the two kohlrabi bulbs she was purchasing into her canvas bag. “I bet these would make a great salad with some crisp, fresh apple,” I said.
It was like a light bulb went off and illuminated us both… a farmers market think tank, if you will. “What a great idea! I just bought some apples!” [Yes, I’m aware… considering I’ve recently been rooting around in your bag.] I added the suggestion of apple cider vinegar for the dressing and she countered with extra virgin olive oil. As she was walking away I flashed a winning smile and popped out with, “nah. Roasted walnut oil would be great.”
Check and mate.
She turned and grinned and thanked me for the inspiration, vowing to give me a full report next week. I couldn’t wait for her, so I whipped something up myself – after a much-deserved but painfully brief Sunday afternoon nap on the sofa.
Kohlrabi and Apple Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette
1T Cider Vinegar
3T Roasted Walnut Oil
1 1/2 t Honey
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 medium Apple, unpeeled, cut into matchsticks
1 Kohlrabi, medium to large, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1/4 cup Walnut pieces, toasted in dry skillet
1T minced Chives (with the blossoms if you have some)
1/2 t minced Lemon Thyme
Whisk together first 3 ingredients then season with salt and pepper. Stir in apple matchsticks as you cut them and the acid will keep the apple from oxidizing and turning brown. Stir in remaining ingredients, taste for seasoning and serve. If you prefer it crisp, eat it right away. If you’re like my dad and mom and prefer things not quite so crunchy, the salad is fine left overnight in the fridge. ‘Tis still delicious!
Three teaspoons vinegar plus one and a half teaspoons honey measure very easily in a shot glass like this!
Be sure to peel the kohlrabi well – that woody skin will make you feel like you’re eating fish bones. Really.
It just LOOKS crisp and refreshing doesn’t it?
You have a little potted herb garden near your kitchen right? So you can use fresh herbs in your cooking?
Oh, you MUST!