There they sit forlorn by the front door or the green grocer in the low wooden box, so similar in disposition but ignored. Although they wear colors of green and purple one would not call them bright or even conspicuous. They sit indistinguishable among all the other offers. A kohlrabi or a turnip just doesn’t have the same appeal as a vitamin C laden sweet red bell pepper or their thin tall stature cousin the celery. The stalks of corn have delicate silk hair covering its bright yellow kernels. The hard working brown potato comes from similar upbringing as the kohlrabi and turnip but has earned its popularity from so many uses and mild taste. Though not related at all, the beet sometime shares their box and has a similar physique. But her reputation surpasses the other orbs due to her bright red color and sweetness in taste.
Their family members sit proudly displayed on higher shelves and sometimes even in the refrigerator. The green or purple cabbage heads, the bright green Brussels sprouts buds, the equally green broccoli trees and the intriguing fluffy cauli-flower all imitate nature’s real flowers or trees. Yet the Kohlrabi and his brother the turnip are equally ignored and not appreciated. They are anonymous globes bearing obtrusive antennas and hair sticking out in peculiar places.
Like most understated and subdued living beings, they have an abundance of taste and hidden benefits. They are high in potassium and antioxidants. The kohlrabi is loaded with vitamin C and iron and the turnips have vitamin A. And both are low in calories.
Kohlrabi (Kohl is the German word for cabbage and Rabi means turnip) is ready to eat only a few weeks after sowing. Peeled and eaten raw, kohlrabi tastes like a combination of mild turnip and sweet apple. Some liken it to the heart of cabbage or a very sweet turnip with celery or nutty overtones.
And the turnip is ready 2 months later. It carries a greater punch of taste. The turnip imparts its sharp taste when cooked, boiled, steamed or baked best in stews or soups.
Surely Hashem meant for us to notice the similarities of these unpretentious vegetables to those who walk in a modest and quiet way. Look under the simple facade and respect the strength of character found in “ordinary” people.
Vegetable Stew over Couscous with Feta cheese
Preparation time: ½ hour
Cooking time: ¾ hour
8 cups water, divided
4 cups onion, vertically sliced
2 cups leek, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups carrot, peeled and sliced
3 cup turnips, peeled and cubed
1 bay leaf
4 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
3 cups kohlrabi, peeled and chopped
1 tsp cumin, grounded
½ tsp red pepper flakes
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp turmeric
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
½ cup cilantro, chopped
2 ½ tsp salt, divided
½ tsp black pepper
2 Tbls fresh lemon juice
3 cups uncooked couscous
2 Tbls olive oil
1 ½ cups crumbled feta cheese
Combine 10 cups water, onion and leek, carrot, turnips and bay leaf. In a large pot bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove 2 cups cooking liquid’s set aside covered. Add kohlrabi, squash, cumin, red pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, garlic, and the chickpeas. Simmer 25 minutes or until squash is tender. Stir in the cilantro, 2 tsp salt and black pepper, cook 5 minutes or until the cilantro wilts. Stir in the lemon juice. Discard the bay leaf.
Place couscous in a large bowl. Combine the reserved cooking liquid and remaining 1 ½ cup water in another pot bring it to a boil. Stir in remaining ½ tsp salt and oil. Pour water mixture over couscous; stir well to combine. Cover and let stand 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Serve vegetable mixture over couscous. Top with crumbled cheese.
Vegetable Beef Stew
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes
4 tsp vegetable oil
2 lb (1 kilo) beef stew meat
2 cups beef broth or chicken soup
2 cups beer
3 cups potato, peeled and cubed
1½ cup turnips, peeled and cubed
1 ½ cup kohlrabi, peeled and cubed
1 cup leek sliced thinly
2 cups carrot, peeled and sliced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ cup water
4 Tbls flour
2 Tbls lemon juice
2 tsp sugar
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the beef and sear it by cooking it 5 minutes on all sides. Add the broth, beer and all the vegetables as well as the bay leaf, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer for 45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Stir occasionally. Discard the bay leaf.
Add the water, flour, lemon juice and sugar together in a bowl and stir well with a whisk. Add the flour mixture to the beef stirring constantly until it boils. In about 3 minutes the flour mixture should thicken the gravy. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley. Serve warm.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: ½ hour
4 medium turnips, peeled and cubed
1 Tbls sugar
1 Tbls butter
1 Tbls flour
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
Chopped fresh parsley
Place turnips with water to cover in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover and cook 10 minutes. Add sugar; cook 5 minutes or until tender. Drain.
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat; add flour, stirring until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir in salt, pepper and turnips. Transfer to a warm serving dish; sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Preparation time: ½ hour
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 35 minutes
3 cups turnips, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
2 Tbls flour
3 Tbls olive oil
¼ onions cup finely chopped
¼ cup apples finely sliced
1 1/3 cup water
1¼ tsp salt
1/3 tsp paprika
1/3 tsp mustard powder
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
Drop into boiling water turnips and salt. Boil about 8 minutes Drain well.
Grease a 10 inch baking dish. Place the turnips in it in 3 layers sprinkling each layer with onions, apples, flour and dotting with olive oil.
Heat the water with 1¼ tsp salt and the paprika and mustard powder. Pour the spiced water over the turnips. Bake about 35 minutes testing for tenderness with a fork.
Tip: Since kohlrabies and turnips are so similar, interchange them according to your desire for a lighter or stronger taste respectively.
Tip: If you don’t have water chestnuts for Chinese cooking or want to add a crispy vegetable with a little taste use the kohlrabi cut into cubes. Kohlrabi can be boiled, baked, steamed, or fried. Young kohlrabi may be eaten raw in salads dressed in a sauce.
Tip:The coloring of the kohlrabi should be light for the green variety and deep for the purple variety. The greens for both varieties should be crisp and firm. Avoid blemishes on the roots, leaves that have dark patches of slime, are wilted or yellowing.
Tip:Good-quality turnips will be very firm, smooth-skinned and heavy for their size. The coloring will be light-purple on the top fading to bright-white at the bottom. Avoid soft, spongy, blemished turnips with brown spots, or lightweight for its size.