Kickin it with Kohlrabi

Back in culinary school, back before my permanent teeth grew in and my mustache made its appearance; I was required to take a class simply called store room 101.  It was in that class that I became familiar with a lot of the produce, canned goods, and inventory that would literally shape my future.  In the begining, I must admit, it was sensory overload.  Just imagine going into Toys R Us as a kid (or for some of us, now) and told that everything that you see  is  yours to play with and enjoy ( now take that in ). The catch was that at the end of 11 weeks, you were required to be able to name 50 random items on site as part of a practical exam… yes that’s right. That includes canned items, and how much volume each contained .  Yes…50  random items that you might or might not have used.  Well, I welcomed the challenge.  We all (culinary cadets) poured over pictures, touched, tasted, and scribbled helpful hints in order to prepare our minds for this test.  On test day, I was cool as a cucumber, and bold as beets.  I’d done my share of studying, tasting, touching, and scribbling notes to feel secure,  or so I thought.  I was even bold enough to place bets on not only getting an A, but getting 100% correct (and I’m not a betting man)  I named the first 45 items correctly, and so my confidence was high. When I hit item 46 I hit a snag on that crazy space looking vegetable called Kohlrabi.  It took me a minute to get my mojo back, but I vowed to never ever make that mistake again.  The first chance I got I took a trip to the produce market in search of this wretched looking vegetable. I needed to get next to it, and get to know it well.  I had already dug up a few recipes and was prepared to hogtie a bunch of this stuff, drag it back to my apartment and get intimate.  When I got back to my apartment, I spent the next three days confined, blinds down, locked in with this vegetable determined to make it part of my repertoire.  Three days later I emerged renewed with knowledge, ready to conquer the world.  I had fallen hard for this sweet cabbagy vegetable and in my heart I knew I would never forsake her for another.

Years after I fell in love with this pale green or purple bulbed vegetable, somewhere just after the honeymoon stage, I decided to do some research to discover what else this now lovely vegetable has to offer.  What I found out made me fall in love all over again.  Kohlrabi is a cabbagy sweet vegetable that belongs to the Brassica oleracea (wild cabbage) species which includes broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts (my fave), kale, and of course collard greens; all nutrient dense foods.  Kohlrabi like others in its family contain glucosinolates, and isothiocyanates both of which have been proven to ward off cancer.  This low calorie (about 36 calories a cup), high fiber, Brutus of a vegetable, can be cooked similar to a carrot, but has the texture of a broccoli stem.  Peel off the leathery tough layers of until you reach the tender most part of the bulb.  And then slice, dice, roast yourself into a better relationship with one of earths most nutrient dense treats.  Soon like me, you’ll be kickin it with Kohlrabi.  Try these tasty Kohlrabi recipes and let me know how it turns out.


Chef Will Hall


Kohlrabi can be cut into thick sticks like home fries, browned in a small amount of oil, and seasoned with chili powder (my favorite), curry powder, cumin or paprika. It’s a very satisfying and healthy fry

1 1/2 to 2 pounds kohlrabi

1 tablespoon rice flour, chickpea flour or semolina (more as needed)

Salt to taste

2 to 4 tablespoons canola oil or grapeseed oil, as needed

Chili powder, ground cumin, curry powder or paprika to taste

1. Peel the kohlrabi and cut into thick sticks, about 1/3 to 1/2 inch wide and about 2 inches long.

2. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy skillet (cast iron is good). Meanwhile, place the flour in a large bowl, season with salt if desired and quickly toss the kohlrabi sticks in the flour so that they are lightly coated.

3. When the oil is rippling, carefully add the kohlrabi to the pan in batches so that the pan isn’t crowded. Cook on one side until browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Then, using tongs, turn the pieces over to brown on the other side for another 2 to 3 minutes. The procedure should take only about 5 minutes if there is enough oil in the pan. Drain on paper towels, then sprinkle right away with the seasoning of your choice. Serve hot.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Advance preparation: You can cut up the kohlrabi several hours before frying. Keep in the refrigerator.

Nutritional information per serving (based on lower range in ingredients, 4 servings): 117 calories; 7 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 2 grams polyunsaturated fat; 4 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 13 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams dietary fiber; 34 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 3 grams protein

Greek style Kohlrabi Pie or Gratin with Dill and Feta

If you don’t want to bother with the phyllo dough or you want to cut down on carbs or calories, make this as a gratin (see below). It’s delicious either way. Because of the moisture in the kohlrabi, your phyllo will need to be recrisped in a low oven if the pie sits for any length of time.

2 pounds kohlrabi, with greens if possible

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium or large onion, finely chopped

2 large garlic cloves, minced

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/3 cup chopped fresh dill

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

3 large eggs, beaten

5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

12 sheets phyllo dough (1/2 pound)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted (optional)

1. If the kohlrabi still has greens attached, stem and wash the greens and blanch in a pot of salted boiling water for 1 minute, or steam. Refresh with cold water, squeeze out excess water and chop coarsely. Set aside. Peel the kohlrabi, making sure to remove the fibrous layer right under the skin, and grate using a food processor fitted with the grater attachment.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until it is tender, about 5 minutes. Add a generous pinch of salt, stir together, and stir in the garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds, and stir in the kohlrabi. Add another tablespoon of olive oil if necessary. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture is very tender and beginning to color, about 10 minutes. If there is a lot of liquid in the pan from the kohlrabi, turn up the heat and cook, stirring, until it boils off. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the kohlrabi greens, dill and parsley, and set aside.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush a 10-inch tart pan or cake pan with olive oil. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, and beat in the crumbled feta. Stir in the kohlrabi mixture and combine well.

4. Line the pan with 7 pieces of phyllo, brushing each piece with olive oil, or a combination of olive oil and melted butter, and turning the dish after each addition so that the edges of the phyllo drape evenly over the pan. Fill with the kohlrabi mixture. Fold the draped edges in over the filling, then layer the remaining 5 pieces on top, brushing each piece with olive oil. Tuck the edges into the sides of the pan. Make a few slashes in the top crust so that steam can escape as the pie bakes. Note: If making a gratin, use a 2-quart baking dish, brush with olive oil and fill with the kohlrabi mixture.

5. Bake the pie for 50 minutes (40 for the gratin), until the crust is crisp and dark golden brown. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Advance preparation: The kohlrabi filling can be made through Step 2 up to a day ahead and refrigerated. You can assemble the pie several hours before baking and keep in the refrigerator, or freeze. Transfer directly from the freezer to the preheated oven, and increase the baking time by about 10 minutes. You can bake the pie ahead, but you must recrisp the phyllo in a medium-low oven (325 degrees) for 10 to 20 minutes.

Variation: For a gratin, omit the phyllo and all but 1 optional tablespoon of the additional oil for brushing it (so you will only need 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil). Oil a 2-quart baking dish and place the filling in the dish. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the top if desired and bake 40 minutes in a 375-degree oven, until the top is nicely browned.

Nutritional information per serving (pie, 6 servings): 328 calories; 15 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 2 grams polyunsaturated fat; 7 grams monounsaturated fat; 114 milligrams cholesterol; 38 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams dietary fiber; 485 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 12 grams protein

Nutritional information per serving (gratin, 6 servings): 169 calories; 10 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 4 grams monounsaturated fat; 114 milligrams cholesterol; 13 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams dietary fiber; 332 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 9 grams protein


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