This year has started off with a whole mess load of stress. We have had to gratefully step through doors (so that we could close them) while trying to remain open to new adventures. It’s been rough, but gratitude is an incredibly stabilizing force during loss and chaos. The one thing that has stayed constant is: my garden. Although most of the country is in a deep freeze, down here in Texas my garden is chugging along. This is a preview for the rest of the country’s spring. I advise everyone to take the plunge and try growing kohlrabi this year!
Trying to grow cool weather crops this far south means planting in fall and harvesting mid winter. I recently pulled some Kohlrabi, turnips and carrots.
I jump for joy when the kohlrabi is ready. It’s my very favorite vegetable (and it’s my mom’s favorite, too!) Kohlrabi may look funny but it is a tasty brassica. Brassicas are a big family and include: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, mustard, turnips, kohlrabi, kale, rutabaga, horseradish and many more. You will often hear them grouped together as cruciferous vegetables or cole crops. In the below recipe you can substitute rutabaga or turnips or use a mix. Use whatever you can find at the grocer or what you have growing, although I think the kohlrabi is the tastiest in this.
Brassicas have great health benefits including antimicrobial effects, anticancer compounds and they may help your liver clean up toxins. They have a couple of unusual drawbacks to consider. If you have thyroid problems, do not eat these veggies raw. They can cause goiter in people who have iodine deficient thyroid issues. They may also cause colic in breastfed babies. Once they are cooked they lose most of their thyroid disrupting potential. If you are breastfeeding a colicky baby: try removing brassicas from your diet to see if it makes a difference.
If you have thyroid disease: cooking these vegetables will greatly reduce goitrogens and nitriles, making them safe to eat in moderation. Don’t worry about these veggies if you don’t fall into the above two categories. For most people these vegetables are powerful, healthy additions to your diet.
Kohlrabi looks like a root vegetable but is actually a swollen piece of the stem. Do not plant them too close together as this will make them long and leggy and they will become woody. Also, do not try and grow these in the heat of summer: there is no removing the bitterness a brassica will develop in the heat. Cool weather will produce a sweet, round, root like vegetable with a taste somewhere between broccoli stems and rutabagas (rutabagas are a wonderful root vegetable. I find them at the grocer occasionally. They are also easy to grow. Once cooked: rutabagas remind me of a potato but with better flavor.)
A lot of people enjoy kohlrabi raw. They have a slight bite when raw, like a very (very) mild radish or a turnip. I am one of the people that can’t eat raw brassicas because of thyroid disease, so I am very lucky that kohlrabi (like most cole crops) tastes delicious cooked with ham or bacon. I think kohlrabi was born for the recipe below and the result is a truly enjoyable comfort food!
The entire plant is edible. The stems taste a little earthy (like beets) to me. The leaves are very thick and can be cooked like kale or collard greens. Save the leaves and stems for another recipe. The real hero of this plant is the swollen stem. Once they are cooked they become slightly sweet and wonderfully savory. They are incredibly delicious and once you’ve tried them you will, forever after, be sure to add plenty of space for them in the spring/fall garden.
People in the know impatiently wait for their kohlrabi to mature and do a special kohlrabi “happy dance” when they are ready to pick! Trust me. I’m not the only one head over heals in love with this vegetable: it’s really that good!
Kohlrabi Ham Bake:
3 Tbs Butter or Bacon Grease
4 Kohlrabi, Peeled and Diced (Or any mix of: turnip, rutabaga and/or kohlrabi)
8 oz. Ham Steak, Diced
Fist Sized Amount of Fresh Chopped Parsley
4 Egg Yolks
1 Cup Heavy Cream, Table Cream or 1/2 and 1/2
3 Tbs All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Mace (No, this isn’t the stuff you spray on attackers! You’ll find it in the spice isle.)
1/8 tsp (+/- To Your Liking) Each Of Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. In a large skillet, melt the butter or bacon grease on medium heat. Add the diced kohlrabi and gently cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Beat the egg yolks and whisk in the heavy cream, flour, mace, salt and pepper until well combined.
3. Place half of the cooked kohlrabi in a greased, large oven-proof casserole dish. Layer the ham and parsley and top with the rest of the kohlrabi. Pour sauce over the mixture. The thicker you layer this: the longer it is going to take to bake. I keep mine fairly thin and wait until the center is bubbling to call it done. If you make this really thick the outside will be done long before the inside so try to keep it thin. If yours is starting to set on the outside and the center is not done, go ahead and stir it. It won’t taste any different than if you have neat layers and you will get a better end product if it is all finished cooking at the same time.
4. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the center is bubbling and no longer runny. Serve immediately. You can add grated cheese to the top if you like, but I prefer the recipe as is.
Once you try this, you will be a convert to this weird looking vegetable. It’s truly a shame that more people don’t have access to this veggie. The seeds are easy to sprout and will come up in your spring garden with the beets and peas…but once you’ve had kohlrabi: those other spring vegetables won’t matter. Spring and fall will start to mean “Kohlrabi season”. On top of your personal enjoyment: you can surprise and convert your friends into kohlrabi lovers when you serve this underused garden star. Then show them the crazy looking raw stem: It’s guaranteed to “wow” the uninitiated!
21 thoughts on “Kohlrabi Ham Bake!”
I’ve never tried kohlrabi, but I’m definitely having a look for it next shopping trip! The recipe sounds and looks so good!
I hope you can find it! I have to grow it, but you can substitute more common vegetables like turnips or rutabaga. Larger cities will have better access at the grocer. You can always ask at the grocery store or farmers market and they may be able to get some!
I think I’ve seen it a couple of times. Thanks!
I have seen it at the grocer but never knew what it tasted like or what to do with it! Thanks for the post – I love all the other cruciferous veggies so I will definitely try this!
I hope you enjoy it! It’s one of my family’s favorite dishes. Thanks for stopping by!
I LOVE kohlrabi and that looks delish!
Kohlrabi is awesome! I hope you get to try this soon. Thank you for the visit. I appreciate it!
This is Crazy Green Thumb’s mom. My mother (her grandmother) grew Kohlrabi and got me hooked on it as a kid in our 3/4 acre 4H garden. I would put it right up there with home grown sweet corn and really ripe homegrown tomatoes as the kings of the garden. When people ask me what it tastes like, I usually tell them that I can picture God creating turnips and then saying, “I can do better than that” and the improvement was Kohlrabi. I usually just peel them and boil them quickly (or microwave ir steam them), toss them with butter, salt and pepper and devour them! If you like the taste of the soft inside of those big broccoli stems, this tastes much the same when it’s raw. Look for it where the grocer displays bunches of fresh beets and carrots with the tops still on. And when you check out and pay, 80% chance the cashier has no earthly idea what they are. All the more for Kohlrabi lovers!
I like kohlrabi. Fortunately I can eat it raw but I have not tried to grow it (yet) 😉
Yea, for fans of kohlrabi! They are good raw. Thanks for coming by. I appreciate it!
This has been really useful, thanks – I got a free packet of Kohlrabi seeds and didn’t know really what to do with them. I’ve sown them now and after reading this, I’m really excited to see how they get on. They also look amazing!
Good luck! I know you’ll enjoy them. Thanks for the visit!
So beautiful. It looks delicious! What I’d do to handle life’s challenges as gracefully as this!! 🙂
I’m glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate the visit!
I love visiting with you! Always a breath of fresh air, pun intended. 😉
I’m glad to see your hero post! Hang there hero!
Yes kohlrabi! Discovered it in our CSA last summer and fell in love with it. Such an interesting and delicious flavor.
Definitely great stuff! Thanks for coming by!
Like your other commenters, I’ve never eaten kohlrabi, and somehow I imagined it to be nasty! You’ve certainly made me curious, but here in Japan I can’t even get seeds, so my curiosity will have to wait for a while to be satisfied.
Well you can certainly grow one of my favorite greens from Japan: shiso. But if you’re in Japan you probably already have a long history with it! Thank you for coming by! I appreciate the visit.