• Simply Fresh by Julie Wern

    I had the pleasure of visiting the great state of Vermont this past weekend and was actually able to relax and get in some pleasure reading.  I came across this great paragraph on cooking by Michael Pollan in his newest book, Cooked.   He is writing of all the things he learned (besides food preparation) while mastering the art of cooking for this book.  He states, “I learned far more than I ever expected to about the nature of work, the meaning of health, about tradition and ritual, self-reliance and community, the rhythms of everyday life, and the supreme satisfaction of producing something I previously could only have imagined consuming, [and] doing it outside of the cash economy for no other reason but love”.

    How eloquently he describes my experience of writing, cooking, and learning for Holcomb’s CSA!

    Featured Item—Kohlrabi

    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. Many say the flavor of the bulb is similar to broccoli stem. Both the bulbs and greens are edible, the flat greens being similar to collards in taste and texture. Kohlrabi is high in vitamin C and fiber, and also contains significant amounts of folic acid, potassium and magnesium.

    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. Bulb peels easily after being cooked.

    Kohlrabi leaves are great cooked 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. Use as you would any mild, cooked green, such as sauteéd with olive oil and garlic, or tossed into sauces and soups. You can also steam or saute the greens as you would any other green (add a bit of liquid), or you can toss in soups/stews at the end of cooking.

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    I have always loved a gratin but don’t want all the butter and cream that typically comes with it. The following recipe uses kohlrabi and potato with broth and wine and a little cheese for a lighter but delicious alternative.

    Kohlrabi “Gratin”                                                                                  Serves 4

    INGREDIENTS:

    – 2 teaspoons olive oil

    – 1 small onion

    – 2 cloves garlic, minced

    – 2-3 kohlrabi with greens

    – 1 large russet potato or other potato

    – 1/2 cup vegetable or low sodium chicken broth

    – 1/2 cup white wine

    – 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

    – 1/2 cup grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese

    METHOD:

    1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 8 X 8″ baking pan with cooking spray.

    2.  Boil medium pot of salted water.

    3.  Cut off stems and leaves of kohlrabi. Clean well. Remove stems and tough ribs from leaves and coarsely chop leaves. Place greens in boiling water and cook about 5-7 minutes, or until tender. Drain and cool. Squeeze out excess water with hands. Chop finely. Set 1 cup aside and reserve the rest for another use.  Peel outer skin of kohlrabi bulb. Slice into 1/8″ thick slices, avoiding the last slice closest to the root (it gets tough and fibrous).

    4.  Peel potato and slice into 1/8″ thick slices. Mince onion.

    5.  Heat olive oil in a medium nonstick pot over medium-low heat. Add garlic, onion, and thyme and saute until tender, about 7 minutes. Add wine and broth and bring to a boil. Add potato, cover, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add kohlrabi slices and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Arrange half of potato and kohlrabi slices in overlapping layers in baking pan. Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup kohlrabi greens and half of gruyere.  Arrange the rest of the potatoes and kohlrabi bulb flat over the greens, overlapping slightly. Cover with remaining cheese.

    6.  Bake for 50 minutes, or until fork enters vegetables cleanly and liquid has evaporated significantly. Remove from oven and let sit for at least 10 minutes (juices will continue to absorb into the gratin as it sits).

    Note: This would also be delicious without potato. Try using 5-6 kohlrabi bulbs.

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    I came up with this salad to replicate a delicious dish I first tasted at the wonderful Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford, Vermont.   Being that I just came from a delightful weekend at this Inn, it seemed appropriate to post this recipe here.

    We are not receiving kale at the farm this week, but if you want, try substituting kohlrabi or arugula greens. Mustard greens would be interesting, too, if they aren’t too spicy.

    Raw Kale, Kohlrabi and Apple Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette           Serves 4

    INGREDIENTS:

    – Cumin Vinaigrette:

    – 1 small shallot, minced

    – 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

    – 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

    – 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

    – 2 teaspoons honey

    – 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground cumin

    – 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

    – Salad:

    – 1/4 cup uncooked red or white quinoa

    – 1 bunch kale greens, washed, dried, torn into bite size pieces (about 5-6 cups)

    – 1/2 crisp apple (Gala or Granny Smith), cored, peeled, cut into 1/3″ dice

    – 1/2 large kohlrabi , peeled, cut into 1/3″ dice

    – 1/3 cup toasted walnuts , roughly chopped

    METHOD:

    1.  To make vinaigrette: Place all ingredients in a blender (or use a hand blender). Blend until shallot is smooth and mixture is emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    2.  To make salad: Place quinoa in a sieve and rinse well with water. Place a pot of salted water on medium high heat and bring to a boil. Add quinoa and stir once to mix well. Reduce heat and simmer until quinoa is just cooked but still has a bite, about 12-15 minutes. Drain well. Shake to remove excess water. Allow to cool.

    Place dried kale leaves in a large bowl. Rub kale leaves between fingers for several minutes until leaves soften and lose some of their volume, about 8 minutes. Add kohlrabi, apple, and cooled quinoa. Toss with vinaigrette to taste (you may not use all of it…it depends upon personal preference and the amount of kale leaves in your salad). Plate salad. Top with toasted walnuts and serve immediately.

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    This bisque is another great way to utilize the potatoes and kohlrabi being offered in the distribution this week.

    Kohlrabi Bisque                                                                                          Serves 4

    INGREDIENTS:

    – 2 teaspoons olive oil

    – 1 small onion, diced

    – 2 small shallots (or 1 large), peeled and minced

    – 3 kohlrabi bulbs, trimmed, peeled and chopped

    – 1 large russet or other potato , peeled and chopped

    – 3 cups homemade or purchased vegetable broth , or more as needed

    – 3 sprigs fresh thyme

    – 1/2 teaspoon salt

    – 1/4 teaspoon truffle oil, optional

    – pepper to taste

    METHOD:

    Heat olive oil in medium sized pot on medium-low heat. Add onion and shallots and cook until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes.

    Add kohlrabi, potato, thyme, broth and salt. Add additional broth as necessary to just cover vegetables. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook about 10-15 minutes, or until both kohlrabi and potato are tender. Remove thyme stems.

    Puree soup in blender or processor until smooth. Soup should be a silky, thick bisque consistency. Add broth to reach desired consistency. For added flavor, mix in optional truffle oil.

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