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Kohlrabi, a vegetable with a thousand virtues

As a vegetable, kohlrabi is unique in both its botanical and organoleptic qualities. Looking at it, it resembles a bulb and, in contrast to other plants, rises from the earth with several stalks and enormous leaves on top. From a botanical perspective, kohlrabi prefers moderate weather and slightly damp soils. Sowing generally takes place in May, while harvesting takes place in the autumn. The part that is most commonly consumed is the bulb, which is officially called the torsa.

It is somewhat fibrous but otherwise fleshy, with a consistency akin to fennel. It is very aromatic when raw, but it also tastes wonderful when cooked—usually boiled. Kohlrabi stands up for itself nutritionally quite well. It contains more vitamin C than oranges. Moreover, it offers a great deal of fibre; in fact, it is unparalleled in this regard. It also has a lot of mineral salts, such as potassium and calcium, which are beneficial for bones and circulation, respectively.

The varieties of this truly unique vegetable

One plant that is closely related to traditional cabbage is kohlrabi. Since it is a cultivar that is not very common, botany has not advanced to the point where it can produce numerous species.So, to date, we find only two noteworthy variants: white kohlrabi and purple kohlrabi.

Naturally, colour distinguishes the two types. But this differentiation is limited to the bulb (also known as the torsa). Both variants have green leaves. Their flavours are remarkably similar. The purple one, however, can occasionally smell a little stronger than the white one. Nutritionally speaking, there are also a lot of similarities; the only distinction is the presence of antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins, which have anti-cancer properties. They are present in the purple variant and almost completely absent in the white one.

Kohlrabi in the kitchen

How is kohlrabi prepared in a recipe? Though it belongs to the same family as regular cabbage, it actually has a lot in common, culinary-wise, with turnips, beets, and all vegetables consisting of a fleshy bulb. However, the truly edible portion of kohlrabi is the bulb. In any case, this vegetable finds space above all in soups and veloutés. In these recipes, it is often lightly blanched and then blended, obviously in the company of other ingredients. It can also be used as a filling for savory pies, “experimental” rotisserie pieces, etc. Generally speaking, it should be cooked a little longer.

There is also no shortage of kohlrabi risottos, in which case the rice obviously acts as the base. This type of vegetable can also be consumed alone, perhaps as a side dish. In this case, it is stewed or boiled and then seasoned with an emulsion that enhances the vegetable, like all those that boast a thick consistency.