Although I've always been fascinated with the extraterrestial features of fresh kohlrabi, I've never given it much thought. When I see it at the market, I'll toss it a quick glance before turning my head and attention to the normal looking vegetables.
Kohlrabi is a bulbous stemmed vegetable with leafy stalks protruding from willowy edible tentacles. It's a weird and beautiful vegetable. Both graceful and clunky. A vegetable that wants to dance, but has no dance card. Nestled between gorgeous spring asparagus, fluttering lettuces, herbs, and other more interesting vegetables, kohlrabi seems to be the market wallflower. Overlooked. Passed over. Dismissed. Not anymore. Not for me, anyway. Last weekend, on a whim, I finally bagged a couple of freakish alien-like Elmwood Stock kohlrabi bulbs.
A few nights ago, I surprized Michael with one of his favorite meals when he returned from a short business trip. Turkey with dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce? Nope. That wasn't going to happen on a week night. When he walked through the front door, every nook and cranny of our cranky old house smelled like oven-braised St. Louis-style ribs smothered in smoky sweet barbecue sauce.
I needed a tangy slaw to counter the rich meatiness of the ribs.
Kohlrabi, welcome to the dance.
After snipping the arms from the bulbs, I peeled the skin with a vegetable peeler. I expected the flesh to be dry and hard like turnips, but they were incredibly juicy. Juicy and tender, like apples. They tasted like a cross between mild turnips, apples, jicama, and water chestnuts. Wow. Who knew?
I suppose I could have grated the kohlrabi, but chose the mandolin for uniform julienned pieces. I carefully sliced the kohlrabi (using the hand guard) into delicate shreds, shaved baby fennel bulbs into thin slices, and tossed them into a large bowl. For texture and sweetness, I added a small julienned carrot and thinly sliced spring radishes. After giving the slaw a quick toss, I slid the mix into the refigerator to chill.
Knowing the ribs would be unctuous and sticky, I wanted to balance the fatty richness with a bright acidic slaw. I combined 1/4 cup fresh lime juice ( about 3 limes), 3 tablespoons local honey, 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, salt, and cracked pepper. After whisking the honey into the fresh juices, I slowly added 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil to emulsify the vinaigrette. I set the dressing aside, poured myself a huge glass of chardonnay, and joined Michael in the parlor to chat.
After a few glasses of wine (or more), I pulled the ribs from the oven, sliced them into double rib portions, slathered them with the pan juices, and stacked them onto two ridiculously large plates.
I quickly tossed the kohlrab slaw with the honey-lime vinaigrette and twirled the ribbons into individual bowls. After tumbling raw shaved baby beets to the side, I finished the slaw with a dusting of citrusy sumac.
Tangy. Tart. Crisp. Refreshing. The sassy kohlrabi slaw spanked the sleepy meat awake with crunchy mouthwatering wetness. Perfect.