The Vegetable that Looks Like a Creature from Outer Space

Have you seen this vegetable with its big bottom bulb and leafy-topped stalks sticking up like the antennae of a creature from outer space? It's not very popular and not very familiar, but should be, because it tastes so good and has such a terrific crunch when eaten raw.

I think people may avoid it because they don't know what it is or what to do with it. 

Basically it's this, a cabbage variant. The name means "cabbage turnip." You can eat the bulb and the leaves. (Cook the leaves like any green leafy vegetable.)

The bulb takes some work. You have to peel them as you would broccoli stems. Underneath the thick skin you might also find some fibrous strings, which you should also remove. Then you're left with the crispy, juicy, tender flesh, which you can eat raw (good for crudites), or make into cole slaw or as a substitute for cucumber in tea sandwiches and salad. 

On the other hand, kohlrabi can be cooked too, and, like all cabbage is especially perfect with potatoes. Mashed potatoes are lighter, sweeter and amazingly interesting when you mix them with mashed kohlrabi. For this recipe I've also included parsnips and apples. It's a terrific side dish for fish, poultry, meat or as part of a vegetarian dinner.


Kohlrabi, Parsnip, Potato Mash

  • 1-½ to 2 pounds kohlrabi bulbs, peeled, chopped into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 pounds parsnips, peeled and sliced ½-inch thick
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold or all-purpose potatoes, peeled and chopped into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 large tart apple, peeled, cored and chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons butter, margarine or olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Place the kohlrabi in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the parsnips and potatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Add the apple and cook for 5-6 minutes or until all the ingredients are tender. Drain and place the ingredients in a large bowl. Add the butter and mash until smooth and thoroughly blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve topped with chopped parsley.

Makes 8 servings