Sunday, 29 July 2012

Kohlrabi slaw

I was in a particularly suggestible mood at the farmer’s market last Sunday. It not only felt like summer, with temperatures warm enough in mid morning to make long sleeves unnecessary, but it looked like it too. Tomatoes were finally the right colour, and at a price that encouraged over-buying. Berries were abundant as well, likewise broad beans, peppers, courgettes and cucumbers. Aubergines made their first appearance.

Kohlrabi wasn’t an obvious fit in a basket of  more Mediterranean ingredients, but it got a good talking up from one of the vendors, who compared its taste to radishes and affirmed it could be eaten raw, thinly sliced or grated. And at 70p apiece, it was hardly an expensive experiment.

Once home, a bit of reading confirmed my suspicion that kohlrabi takes well to all sorts of slaw-like treatments. The most popular approach seems to be to combine it with similar quantities of carrot and white or green cabbage in variations on a standard creamy, vinegar-based or mustardy coleslaw. (I think the last of these could be particularly good with an extra spoonful of caraway seeds.)  I was also intrigued by a recipe in which it substituted for celeriac in a remoulade. Another well-regarded combination drew on the kohlrabi’s similarity to daikon and dressed it with rice wine vinegar and sesame oil.

I ended up swapping it out for the green cabbage (hard, crinkly or soft) in a Mexican-inspired salad and served it as a topping for black bean tacos. Should summer be making more than a fleeting appearance in your parts, I’d imagine it would also pair well with spicy grilled meats.

Kohlrabi slaw
Total time: 15 minutes; Active time: 15 minutes
Serves 2 generously
Special equipment: mandoline with a julienne attachment

1 kohlrabi
½ bunch coriander
2-3 spring onions
1-2 fresh chillies (preferably red for colour contrast)

Set your mandoline blades to cut julienne slices.  (We used the middle of the 3 julienne blades, but any julienne width should do.)

Cut off the protruding stems from the kohlrabi and peel off tough layer of outer skin. Slice into chunks that will run easily across the mandoline. Using the hand guard, cut the kohlrabi into julienne slices. Add to a bowl large enough for the slaw to be tossed and served.

Remove the largest stems from the coriander and roughly chop. Top and tail the spring onions and cut into thin slices. Add the coriander and the spring onions to the kohlrabi.

Deseed the chilli (depending on heat and tolerance) and finely chop. Add to slaw.

Season to taste with lime and salt and mix well. Allow a few minutes for the flavours to combine before serving.

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