I am so excited. Compared with past year’s output, this year’s early harvest is plentiful and nicely varied. We even have peas (shelling and snap) and annual herbs (cilantro, dill and parsley) available to pick already. A few notes on some of the items you may see that you may not be too familiar with.
Garlic Scapes–These are the stems that arise from garlic bulbs. Think tough scallions that taste like a mild version of bright fresh garlic. Because the stems can be so tough, it helps to mince them as you would garlic cloves. But you can also roast or saute them in large pieces. One popular way to use them is in a pesto. This article from the Huffington Post offers some interesting ways to try garlic scapes (click here)
Leaf Broccoli/Sprouting Broccoli--these are the highly nutritious outer leaves of the broccoli plant, Use like you would any other hardy green, like collards.
Kohlrabi may look like it comes from outer space and it is heavenly, but it is not as strange as it looks. Its name is German for “cabbage turnip” and while it is a member of the cabbage family, it is not exactly a cabbage or a turnip. Both the bulbs and greens are edible, the flat greens being similar to collards in taste and texture. Many say the flavor of the bulb is similar to broccoli stem. Kohlrabi is high in vitamin C and fiber, and also contains significant amounts of folic acid, potassium and magnesium. Like other cruciferous vegetables, kohlrabi is a rich source of antioxidants, which support cancer and cardiovascular disease prevention.
Choose small bulbs (1-3 inches) with green, lively leaves. To store, trim leaves from bulbs and store in plastic. Greens will only last a couple of days but the bulbs will keep a couple of weeks.
Kohlrabi bulbs become more fibrous as they grow in size, but smaller bulbs are wonderful raw as a crudite with dip, shaved or chopped and added to salads, or grated and used in coleslaw (squeeze out excess water). Smaller bulbs also do not need to peeled.
A very versatile vegetable, the bulbs are great sautéed, fried, boiled and pureed, cooked into soups and stews, and roasted. They are similar to turnips but give off more water when cooked. Bulbs peel easily after being cooked. Like broccoli enthusiasts, kohlrabi fans disagree on how tender cooked kohlrabi should be. Some prefer it crisp tender, others like it as soft as you can get it. For me, it depends on the preparation. I like my kohlrabi soft in soups, stews and french fries, but like it crisper in stir fries.
Kohlrabi leaves can be used as you would any mild, sturdy green. Like kale they can be prepared in salads, but because they are on the chewy side, I like to mix them with other salad greens for a variety of textures. Cooked, they lend themselves to many preparations such as simply sautéed or steamed with olive oil and garlic (add a bit of liquid), or tossed into sauces and soups. If you can’t use your kohlrabi leaves right away you can increase their fridge life by pre cooking them. Cook in boiling salted water until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Drain, cool, and squeeze out extra liquid. Once cooked, Kohlrabi leaves will last 4-5 days in the refrigerator or can be frozen. Pre-cooked greens are great in smoothies, casseroles, or soup and stews.
Here are some interesting kohlrabi recipes I’ve found in food magazines or online. They highlight the wide variety of uses for kohlrabi:
- Sautéed Kolhrabi Bulbs and Leaves with Onions and Cream (click here)
- Curried Red Lentil, Kohlrabi, and Cous Cous Salad (click here)
- Kohlrabi and Ham Gratin (click here)
- Kohlrabi Blue Cheese Slaw (click here)
- Kohlrabi, Leek and Gruyere Pizza (click here)
- Kohlrabi Pickles with Chili Oil (click here)
- Mashed Kohlrabi with Brown Butter and Hazelnuts (click here)
This week I tried my hand at kohlrabi chips but instead of just making chips with the bulb, I decided to use the leaves as well. I figured that since they were so similar to kale, they should crisp up just as nicely as kale chips. I was right. They were both downright delicious. Here is how I did it.
- - 1 medium kohlrabi, peeled
- - leaves from one kohlrabi, washed and patted dry
- - 1½ teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- - ½ teaspoon cider vinegar, divided
- - ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt, plus scant ⅛ teaspoon
- - ¼ teaspoon black pepper, divided
- Preheat oven to 250℉. Line a non-rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a mandolin, slice kohlrabi bulb into very thin slices (use smallest setting). Place slices in a medium bowl. Drizzle with ½ teaspoon olive oil and ¼ teaspoon vinegar. Sprinkle with ⅛ teaspoon black pepper and ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt. Using your hands separate pieces and rub in oil, vinegar and spices until each piece is well coated on both sides. Place pieces side by side, but not overlapping, on baking sheet.
- Cut out center rib of each kohlrabi leaf. Roughly cut leaves into 1½” bite sized pieces. Place in same bowl used to mix kohlrabi pieces. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil, ¼ teaspoon vinegar, 1/16th teaspoon black pepper, and a scant ⅛ teaspoon Kosher salt. Using hands rub each leaf with the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper to coat evenly. Lay out pieces side by side, but not overlapping, on the rest of the baking sheet (be sure leaves are completely straightened out and flat and are not folded over in any spots).. If you don’t have enough room for all the leaves, prepare a second baking sheet (you can also choose to do two baking sheets from the beginning. Place all the kohlrabi pieces on one sheet and all the leaves on the other).
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, rotating baking sheet(s) a couple of times, until kohlrabi pieces are deep golden brown and leaves are airy and crisp, not chewy. Note that some chips will get crisp before others. Check often after 30 minutes and transfer chips as they are done to a cooling rack. Chips are best eaten immediately. Chips can be stored in an airtight container for 3-4 days; however humidity does affect them and make them soft.
Since we’ve seen Napa cabbage for a couple weeks now, I thought I would offer a recipe using this tender cabbage, along with scallions, radishes, and fresh cilantro from the farm. This is an easy taco recipe I came up with using Howling Flats Farm fresh pastured Mexican chorizo that I bought from the farm store. You can also find Mexican chorizo at stores like Whole Foods and Fresh Market.
If you don’t wish to hunt down chorizo, you can spice up some ground beef using your favorite taco spice mix (avoid those with preservatives and MSG) as a substitute. You can also make your own chorizo spice mix and simply mix it into ground pork (click here for recipe)
Chorizo Tacos with Napa Cabbage Slaw and Chipotle Crema
– 1 pound fresh Mexican chorizo, preferably pastured and organic
– 1/2 med onion, minced
– organic corn tortillas
– For Slaw:
– 4 large Napa cabbage leaves, cleaned
– 4 radishes, cut into thin matchsticks
– 3 small scallions, thinly sliced
– 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
– 1 teaspoon raw honey
– 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
– salt and pepper to taste
– For Crema:
– 1/2 cup Organic Greek yogurt
– 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
– 3/4 teaspoon canned chipotle pepper , minced
– 1/2 teaspoon adobo sauce from canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Remove chorizo from casing (I like to make a cut with scissors down one side of each link and then peel back the casing, allowing the meat to fall right into the pan). Place chorizo in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat, breaking up meat with a spoon or spatula, until it is browned and completely cooked through. Drain off most of the fat. Return the chorizo to the heat, reduce heat to medium, and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender, about 8 minutes.
2. For Slaw: While chorizo is cooking, stack napa cabbage leaves and roll them up from one long side. Cut into a chiffonade (thin slices), all the way down through the white stem. Chop chiffonade further to make bite sized pieces. Place in a medium bowl. Add radishes, scallions and cilantro. In a small bowl, mix lime juice with honey and oil until honey is well incorporated. Pour over Napa cabbage mixture. Toss well to coat vegetables with dressing. Allow to sit while finishing the rest of the dish
3. For Crema: In a small bowl, mix yogurt, lime juice, canned chipotle, adobo sauce, and salt.
4. Warm tortillas according to your preferred method.
5. To assemble tacos, place hot chorizo mix in the center of a warmed tortilla. Top with plenty of slaw and a good dollop of chipotle cream. Serve immediately.