Kohlrabi Salad with Pea Shoots
When I was doing research for this book, I asked folks who were members of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs the vegetable they wished they'd never see in their weekly box again, and most answered "kohlrabi". Truthfully, I didn't think I cared for it either until I tried this truly awesome recipe from Chef Fearn Smith of the Farm Cafe in Portland. This recipe should change your mind if you ever thought of kohlrabi as an "ick" vegetable.
2 large red or green kohlrabi bulbs
1 large carrot, peeled
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 cups pea shoots (optional)
With a sharp chef's knife, cut the tough outer skin and stems from the kohlrabi. Julienne the kohlrabi with a mandoline or sharp knife (you will have about 4 cups), and then julienne the carrots.
Toast the fennel seeds in a small dry sauté pan over medium heat until they begin to brown slightly and smell toasty. Transfer them to a mortar and pestle or clean spice grinder and grind into a coarse powder.
Combine the fennel powder, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the oils. Pour over the vegetables and toss to coat.
Chop the pea shoots into 1-inch pieces and toss into the salad immediately before serving.
Kohlrabi is a member of the odiferous brassica family (a cousin of cabbage), but it has a rather benign flavor, something like a cross between green cabbage and broccoli, yet milder and crisper. It is available almost year-round, but you'll find it most often in late spring to early summer. Small to medium kohlrabi (no bigger than a fist) have the mildest flavor. If possible, buy it with the leaves still attached; they're an indicator of freshness.