Kohlrabi. When I’m moving down the produce line, I try to avoid looking at one of those vegetables that seems like it belongs in another planet. Do you recall the E.T. scene where his face suddenly appears in the center of the stuffed animals? That is how it is. Eeeek.
What exactly is kohlrabi? The name is a playful mashup of the descriptive German and Swiss phrases for cabbage and turnip. It is a knobby, irregularly shaped vegetable that resembles a tennis ball with a spout of leaves, giving it the appearance of a turnip from Jupiter.
Kohlrabi comes in green or purple, but the flesh is white either way. Its dense insides remind me of a broccoli stalk. It smells kind of radish and tastes ambiguously cruciferous.
I almost couldn’t find kohlrabi at the store, but I finally spied one sad, limp bunch and took it home with me. I used a vegetable peeler to peel off the rough brown spots and sliced it up, along with an apple. The crisp radish/sweet apple thing seemed a little odd at first, but soon I couldn’t resist snacking on it.
Then I added some fresh tarragon, which has the most wonderful lemon-licorice flavor to it, as well as toasted sunflower seeds, lemon and olive oil. It was good. Strangely good. Crisp, sweet, a little savory. I added some Gouda cheese on a whim, after the photo shoot, and that cheese took the salad into this-salad-is-not-safe-around-me territory. I’d recommend adding Gouda if you’re a cheese eater. This kohlrabi salad/slaw makes a great light side salad for warm fall days.
The recipe comes from a new book called Cooking with Seeds: 100 Delicious Recipes for the Foods You Love, Made with Nature’s Most Nutrient-Dense Ingredients by Charlyne Mattox. It’s filled with creative ways to add seeds to both familiar and more exotic recipes. I expected a seed-focused book to utilize more whole grains and a little less butter, but it’s probably more approachable as written. Check it out if you’d like to learn how to work more seeds into your diet!
Also read: Sun-Dried Tomato, Spinach and Quinoa Salad
- 2 small kohlrabi (about 1 pound, I used the green variety but purple would be prettier), cut into matchsticks about ¼″ wide
- 1 large Honeycrisp apple (about ½ pound), cored and cut into matchsticks about ¼″ wide
- ⅓ cup grated gouda cheese (optional, not shown)
- ¼ cup fresh tarragon leaves
- 3 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds*
- Lemon zest, to taste
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, to taste
- 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
- Flaky sea salt (like Maldon) and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- In a large serving bowl, combine the kohlrabi and apple matchsticks. Add the cheese, if using, and the tarragon leaves and sunflower seeds. Shave lemon zest liberally over the bowl (I probably used about half of a small lemon’s worth or more).
- Drizzle in 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon lemon juice, then sprinkle lightly with salt and black pepper. Use your hands to gently toss the salad, then add another drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice if the salad seems dry. Finish with another light sprinkle of salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from Cooking with Seeds by Charlyne Mattox, with permission.
*HOW TO TOAST YOUR OWN SUNFLOWER SEEDS: If you only have raw, unsalted sunflower seeds at home (like me), toast them in a small skillet over medium heat with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until they’re turning lightly golden on the edges, about 5 minutes.
STORAGE SUGGESTIONS: This salad keeps well for a day or two, provided that you use enough lemon juice to prevent oxidation (I used closer to 2 tablespoons and day-old leftovers were still great).
MAKE IT DAIRY FREE/VEGAN: Skip the optional cheese.