Her kohlrabi patch was bursting.

“Take these home,” Jude said, pushing a bowl of  spindly armed, bulbous-weighted, minty green vegetables at me. “Eat them like cabbage.”

I did. And I wasn’t a fan. Kohlrabi seemed tough and chewy and like nothing I’d want to eat again. So I didn’t.

Until yesterday.

With winter blasting upon us and dinners heavy on soups and stews, I craved something crunchy. Something crisp. The market had lovely kohlrabi bunches that looked so green and so fresh, I decided to give them another try.

Turns out, I’d eaten Jude’s veggies all wrong. Prepared the proper way, kohlrabi is clean, crisp and juicy, with a texture akin to green apples and a taste reminiscent of peppery mustard greens.

Part of the cabbage family, kohlrabi counts broccoli and kale among its brethren. It’s high in dietary fiber and off the charts in Vitamin C (more than 100 percent of the U.S. recommended daily allowance).

kohlrabi slicedThe secret to preparing it? Haul out your vegetable peeler. You need to peel off the tough outer layer to get to kohlrabi’s tender bite and delicate flesh. Once peeled, you can shred, dice, slice or julienne the bulb and steam it, saute it or eat it raw.

I pickled it. Tossed with carrot chunks and cauliflower florets, then steeped in a mix of red wine vinegar, olive oil and spices, it was crisp and refreshing — a perfect foil to the week’s heavier dinners.

I don’t know if Jude still grows kohlrabi in her garden. But it doesn’t matter.

I’m going to grow it in mine.

Pickled Kohlrabi

Make this with kohlrabi alone, or team it with other hearty vegetables like carrots, cauliflower and celery root. The pickling brine is adapted from Mark Bittman’s “Kitchen Matrix”; feel free to sub in different types of vinegars and spices.

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 3 medium kohlrabi, peeled and sliced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 a large cauliflower, broken into florets

kohlrabi brineCombine the vinegar, oil, water, salt, peppercorns, bay leaf and garlic in a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat.

Add the vegetables.

kohlrabi steepingTurn off the heat and cover the pan. When it reaches room temperature, place it in the refrigerator and chill until very cold.

Serve as is, or transfer the mixture to a clean mason jar. Store in the fridge for up to one week.