While it's been unseasonably warm this past week, make no mistake, we're actually in winter here. Though no one would blame you if you were confused after seeing heirloom tomatoes on the tables at the markets (yeah, they're from the hothouse). The seasonal clues are there though, specifically in the form of the burgeoning brassicas: broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, and collards. One of the more bewildering brassicas–the kohlrabi–emerged this week, piled up like a bunch of purple and green Sputniks waiting for orbit.
It won't really matter which you choose: purple, green, or the more elusive white. The thick and leathery outer skin must be entirely removed to reveal the same beige flesh inside. The texture is crunchy and wet, almost like a water chestnut, and has a sweet green flavor not unlike fresh winter broccoli stems. Choose orbs that are smaller than a fist–not much more than three inches in diameter–because the larger the kohlrabi, the woodier the interior.
Some say eating kohlrabi raw is the only way to go (it's great with apples and fennel in a crisp slaw), but its snappy quality is perfect for pickles, and there's a slew of Indian, Pakistani, and Afghani recipes that make kohlrabi king. Essentially you can do with kohlrabi anything you can do with a turnip–the name comes from the German 'kohl', meaning cabbage, and 'rübe', meaning turnip–with similar, but less earthy, results. The kale-hard leaves are also edible and do well when treated roughly in braises, stews, and leisurely slow-cooker meals.