Kohlrabi looks like a cross between a cabbage and a turnip and is often classified as a root vegetable, even though it grows above ground. It is a member of the brassica family, but unlike cabbages, it is the bulbous stalk that is edible rather than the flowering heads. There are two varieties of kohlrabi. One is purple and the other is pale green. They both have the same mild and fresh tasting flavor, not dissimilar to water chestnuts. It is neither as peppery as turnip nor as distinctive as cabbage, but it is easy to see why people think it a little like both. It can be served as an alternative to carrots or turnips.

History : Although kohlrabi is not a very popular vegetable in Britain, it is commonly eaten in other parts of Europe, as well as in China, India and Asia. In Kashmir, where it is grown extensively, there are many recipes - the bulbs are often finely sliced and eaten in salads and the greens are cooked in mustard oil with garlic and chilies.

Buying and Storing : Kohlrabi is best when small and young, since larger specimens tend to be coarse and fibrous. It keeps well for 7-10 days if stored in a cool place.

Preparing : Peel the skin with a knife and then cook whole or slice.

Cooking : Very small kohlrabi are tender and can be cooked whole. However, if they are any bigger than 5cm in diameter, they can be stuffed. To do this, hollow out a little before cooking and then stuff with fried onions and tomatoes for instance. For sliced kohlrabi, cook until just tender and serve with butter or a creamy sauce. They can also be cooked long and slow in gratin dishes. Alternatively, par-boil them and bake in the oven covered with a cheese sauce.

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