Real Food with Camille Watson: Kohlrabi, Eggplants, and Other Strange Vegetables
A friend confided in me recently. She wants to support local farmers, so she joined with a friend to buy a CSA (community supported agriculture) share for the summer. Several days after delivery the vegetables were laying on her counter, yellowing and mouldering. Why? She had no idea what to do with them, and couldn’t even decide what one of them was. I felt her frustration. How do you google something when you don’t know what it’s called?
“Looks like a brain with a bunch of antennae coming out of it,” she said.
“Then it must be kohlrabi,” I replied. (Shout-out to Colvin Family Farm for this particular kohlrabi.)
Kohlrabi isn’t often found on grocery store shelves. But it actually grows quite readily in many different zones. It is a cool-weather crop, and a member of the cabbage family. This strange- looking vegetable has a mild flavor, and is great raw or cooked. You can use the leaves, when tender, in salads, as well as the sweet-crunchy meat of the bulb. Kohlrabi is great in stir fries, in soups, or roasted with root vegetables.
What to do right now with your kohlrabi: Grab it and strip the leaves off, saving the nice tender ones. Peel the kohlrabi; discard the peel. Chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Slice and dice the bulb into 1/2” or smaller slices or dices. Heat a tablespoon or two of olive or avocado oil in a large skillet. When it is hot enough to sizzle a drop of water, add the kohlrabi leaves and bulb. Turn, stir and fry until crisp tender with a brown edge here and there. Season with sea salt and pepper. Or, get a little wild and add peppers and onions to the stir fry. Taste. Savor. Smile.
Eggplant is another one of those vegetables that seems just a little weird. After all, it’s purple and spongy. And it turns funny colors when you start carving on it. But it is tasty grilled or in casseroles.
Here’s my favorite grilled eggplant recipe. No-brainer easy. Fix this next time you have company, and they’ll think you’ve been taking cooking lessons from a chef.
Kale and Chard are a bit off the beaten path when it comes to vegetables. Expect to see more kale in cooler months, and chard in the summer. My fav chard is the rainbow variety, just because the multicolor stems look so pretty.
An easy, delicious way to cook kale or chard (separately or together): Kale: remove stems, shred leaves. Chard: shred leaves, chop stems and set them aside. Both: Heat a spoonful of olive or avocado oil in a large skillet until sizzling, add chopped chard stems, stir fry for a minute or two, then add shredded leaves. Stir and turn until the leaves are wilted. Add a bit of water, cap the skillet and steam for about 10 minutes or until tender and the water is cooked off. Add sea salt and pepper. Relish the bounty of summer. Repeat.
You can read more from Camille Watson on her website. She is health educator, speaker and published author of the book Eight Steps to a Real-Foods Kitchen and the other half of Essential Kitchen.