In my relentless pursuit of discussing unfamiliar produce, let me introduce the uninitiated to the joys of kohlrabi. A member of the cabbage family, this bulby thing is, ummm…is, errrr…
This, friends, is kohlrabi. And it’s crunchy and kind of watery, and versatile, and can add an unexpected, cruciferous, broccoli-ish mellowness to a meal. Which, you know. Can be good or bad, depending on how you feel about mellow broccoli. George doesn’t care for it all that much.
Unless, of course, you cut it into chips and roast it. Changes the game entirely. True story: the first time I made these, I burnt the hell out of them. They were totally brown, almost black, definitely useless. Or so I thought. George couldn’t get enough of them, told me not to throw them away because he would absolutely eat them. Ummmm…OK? I tried one, and I got his point. It goes from kind of watery to deeply flavored, roasted and crisp, even crunchy if you cut it thin enough. And the flavor totally morphs into…well, imagine the best kind of gnarly, down-home, thick-cut potato chip you’ve ever had. Then imagine it was roasted in the oven and is actually good for you. Bonus! Here’s what you need:
- As much kohlrabi as you’d like (dinner for three, we had three kohlrabi, which made plenty for feasting plus some next-day nibbles)
- Olive oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Your seasonings of choice (I used grated parmesan and Aleppo pepper, but feel free to use whatever you’d like)
- A mandoline slicer or a very sharp knife (I used a knife. Partly because I like to work on my knife skills but also because I really need a better mandoline, as mine kind of scares me and I’m accident-prone…but I digress
Heat your oven to 350°.
Trim your kohlrabi. You don’t even have to peel it for this dish, but you should cut off the weird little pointy thick nodes that grow off its sides.
Tip: If you’re cutting these by hand, they can be a little unsteady because they’re round and that can be daunting, especially if you’re working on your knife skills but don’t quite feel that you’re “there” yet. Just cut off a bit of the round part so it lays flat on the cutting board, and then have at it.
Once they’re very thinly sliced, you can rejoice, for the hardest part is over, and that wasn’t so bad, now, was it? Then…
…get them greased up and ready to go. Because they’re so flat, and I like shortcuts when they work, and who needs to lay out a trillion rounds of kohlrabi to painstakingly dab with oil on one side, then the other, then transfer to a pan? Not me. Oil the pan you’re going to lay them on.
Then you just have to worry about daubing the tops of the kohlrabi slices before they go into the oven. To the purists who would argue that both sides aren’t getting properly seasoned I say: these slices are about 1/8 inch thick, possibly less. Between the salt and the pepper and the Aleppo pepper and the parmesan, they’re getting plenty seasoned. The whole thing will taste fine, you can calm down.
Once you have what you want on them, you can just put them right in that nice hot oven.
Set a timer for 15-20 minutes (you do want to keep an eye on them; experience is the best teacher, and they will burn). You do want to flip them midway through cooking (and, you can always add more seasonings at that point; if you must, then I advocate more cheese, because cheese, that’s why) and then put them back in for another 10-15 minutes, until they’re browned and crisp and fully cooked. It doesn’t get any more complicated than that. If you cut them by hand then inevitably you’ll find that some are thicker and less crunchy than others, so a mandoline would eliminate inconsistencies. Or you could experience the wide range of roasted kohlrabi, from the thicker slices whose innate, mild sweetness has been deepened by the roasting process, to the crispy, crunchy, super-thin ones that are like little umami-bombs.
We served this with butternut squash pasta, bread with tapenade, roasted cauliflower (recipe coming soon), and a green salad. It was a perfect vegetarian dinner and a great way to greet the colder weather. Let me know how you like this recipe! It made George a kohlrabi convert, and I had all but given up hope that that was possible. 🙂