Lesser Known Vegetables-Hints and Suggestions
- monavano Jan 28, 2008 09:49 AM
So, at my local farmers market yesterday I bought some great looking kohlrabi and tat soi. The tat soi was so deep green and fresh looking I just knew I would love it-except I have no idea how to use it! Same for the kohlrabi.
Can anyone share their experience with these lesser known vegetables? Preparation hints? Storage? Recipes?
I can give you my experience with Kohlrabi; the tat soi I've never tried. Kohlrabi is one of my favorite veggies. It has a slightly nutty, almost sweet taste. Somewhat reminiscent of rutabaga.
The main problem with Kohlrabi, is that the bulbs can get very woody and fibrous if they are allowed to grow too big before harvest. Personally, I've never had much luck with kohlrabi bulbs much larger than a squash ball or racquetball. Our local farmers markets here usually have it in the fall, but for some reason, they mostly offer huge bulbs, maybe 2-3 pounds each. Those are going to be so woody as to be mostly inedible.
So, the smaller, the better. They will stay in the vegetable crisper of your fridge for about a week or two, depending on how fresh they were to begin with.
For preparation, cut off the tough stalks and peel them. The skin on the outside is also very tough I've found, and doesn't cook well. Then, cut into 1 inch chunks and steam for about 10 minutes, until just fork tender. Serve with some salt/pepper and melted butter to let their natural flavor shine through. Sometimes, I've also put a tiny pinch of nutmeg on them, which seems to compliment the flavors well.
We get tatsoi in our CSA. It's great. You can treat it like any other dark green (bok choy, swiss chard, and the like) if you want to cook it. But you can also eat it raw -- last night we tossed tatsoi crispy goodness with some soft red leaf lettuce and it made a great salad. I've also put it inside dumplings and in soups.
Tatsoi is delicious sauteed. Heat about 1 tbsp oil in a large pan. Add a minced shallot and sautee about 1 minute. Add about 1 lb tatsoi (rough chopped it will be about 15 cups) and saute until wilted but still bright green (about 2 minutes). Salt to taste and serve immediately.
It is also good blanched or steamed, in soups and stews, even quiche and omlettes. Goes very well with grilled fish and chicken.
I cooked my first kohlrabi a couple of weeks ago. I cooked the greens one night and the bulb the night after. At my house, the tender, succulent, mild (but not bland) greens were declared to be much better than the bulb, which reminded us of sweet, tender broccoli stems.
In a saucepan, cook chopped smoky bacon slowly until crisp. remove cooked bacon with slotted spoon and reserve. Add finely chopped onion to hot bacon fat (supplement with olive oil if necessary) and cook slowly until translucent and soft. Add a pinch of crushed red pepper and stir into onion mix. Next add chicken broth, some salt, and roughly chopped greens (trimmed of tough central veins) to pan along with cooked bacon. Turn heat down and cover pot. Simmer greens until they reach the desired level of tenderness. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
Remove stalks and peel bulb. Julienne cut the bulb. Grate ~1/4 cup parmesan cheese per 2 bulbs. Mince 1 clove garlic per 2 bulbs. Prepare stovetop steaming apparatus (I use a basket in a pan) and put cut up kohlrabi in steamer. Steam until still crisp tender, remove and rinse under cold water to arrest cooking. Heat butter (1 TBSP per 2 bulbs) in a skillet over medium low heat, add garlic and cook for ~30 seconds. Add kohlrabi to skillet and cook until heated through. Turn off heat, spread out kohlrabi evenly across bottom of skillet and sprinkle with grated cheese and fresh ground black pepper.
I've also considered pushing the kohlrabi bulb in an Asian direction by cooking it with garlic and ginger and finishing with soy, chile paste, and (a teensy bit of) sesame oil, but I haven't tried that out yet.