what is it and how to use it in the kitchen

what is it and how to use it in the kitchen

In the healthy world of cruciferous not only broccoli or cauliflower deserve our attention, because among the brassicaceae we find a large catalog of very tasty vegetables with which to enrich our menus. The kohlrabi or kohlrabi It is one of these vegetables, best known in central and northern Europe, with a somewhat curious appearance and with a more delicate flavor than other cabbages with which, in addition, it goes very well on the plate.

Not only its appearance will attract the attention of those who approach this cruciferous for the first time, since the disparity of terms that define it does not exactly help to make it known. Kohlrabi, nabicol, kohlrabi, kohlrabi, bolinabo or turnip are some of the names by which it can be found in the markets and cookbooks; the important thing, as always, is to know what it is and how to use it.

What is kohlrabi or kohlrabi

As we said, kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes L.) is a vegetable that belongs to the Brasicáceras family, a genus of Brasicas, popularly known as cruciferous. In this group we find many of the so-called cabbages, from cabbage, red cabbage and kale, to broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

The peculiarity of kohlrabi is that it is a variety developed by humans from the artificial selection of other plants. Specifically, we are facing a wild cabbage and white radish cross which explains its distinctive appearance and the disparity of names, which leads to confusion in other languages ​​as well. In Spain this type of vegetables, more of “root” (root vegetables) are less popular, but in Europe there are many others such as rutabaga, celeriac, Jerusalem artichoke or various varieties of turnips.

An edible ‘Sputnik’: description and characteristics

Nicknamed the vegetable Sputnik, its somewhat Martian appearance is unmistakable. The most appreciated part is the stunted bulb, but also its leaves, which grow from a very long and thin stem shaped like anthers, are also edible, just like those of beets.

Purple kohlrabi

Actually that bulb is more of a thickened stem, and not an underground root, although it is often associated with parsnips and carrots. The diameter of this bulb is usually around 5-10 cm, giving larger specimens, the giant kohlrabi. The complete plant with its stems can exceed 30 cm in height and grows at ground level. An average specimen usually weighs, without the leaves, between 200 and 250 g.

The most common kohlrabi is pale green, almost white, being whiter inside; there’s also purple varieties, with shades that can range from purplish spots to a darker homogeneous purple. There are not very significant differences in terms of its flavor, if anything with sweeter nuances in the purple ones, with a yellowish or ivory internal flesh.

Production and cultivation


Much more widespread in countries of the central and northern Europe, where it is a very common product and present in the markets almost all year round, it is also a vegetable that has gained a presence in North American production and, increasingly, in Mediterranean regions.

In addition to being cultivated on a large scale for distribution, kohlrabi is a very popular plant in en local gardens, ecological and particular, as it grows very well together with other crops and usually requires little care.

It has two great seasons, Fall and Spring, being his best time the first, extending all winter. It likes cold and humid climates more, but it is adapting more and more to warmer soils and greenhouse crops, thus lengthening its season, also thanks to its good postharvest.


The progressive increase in the demand for new vegetables and the greater presence of Central Europeans in Spain or Italy has increased the development of new varieties that already cover all calendar productive even in warmer temperatures.

Properties and benefits

Kohlrabi combines the nutritional virtues of all cruciferous vegetables and root vegetables such as turnip. It is a vegetable of low energy density, with very few calories (less than 30 kcal per 100 g), low carbohydrates and very rich in water and fiber. Therefore, it is low calorie but satisfying, without being heavy.


It stands out for its high content of antioxidant vitamins, especially vitamin C, with about 55-65 mg per 100 g of edible raw portion, more than orange. It also provides group B vitamins and, to a lesser extent, essential minerals such as potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. Its protein intake is only testimonial and it contains practically no fat or, of course, cholesterol.

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It is thus a vegetable that should be taken into account in any diet, especially suitable for weight loss or weight control diets, and also for children, athletes or anyone who wants to increase their consumption of vegetables. Raw, it is crunchy but not very hard, and when cooked it becomes much softer, meaty and juicy, perfect for more delicate jaws. It is rarely indigestible, depending on how it is cooked.

How to buy and keep kohlrabi at home

Your purchase has no greater mystery than finding a business that has a supply. The most international supermarkets and hypermarkets are already incorporating it into their shelves, and it is also a vegetable that is gaining popularity in stores of organic products or focused on local producers More smalls.


Likewise, we can look for it in weekly markets, neighborhood food markets and greengrocers and urban markets, or in home providers and baskets or boxes for sale or digital subscription.

This vegetable can be distributed with its stems and leaves – more common in ecological stores or more local ones – or the clean bulbs, sometimes with small leaves still attached. In supermarkets they prefer to remove the stems for logistical reasons, since they spoil and make it difficult to display, and they are usually selected medium or large size bulbs, often being sold individually.


When choosing them, we will only have to make sure that they do not have bumps, cracks or visible damage, and that they look firm and dry skin, without moisture. It is a vegetable that keeps very well for several days even at room temperature, in a cool space protected from heat sources and direct sunlight.

If the temperature of the kitchen is warm, it is better to store it in the less cold part of the fridge, free of moisture and strange odors, with other hard vegetables such as carrot, cauliflower or turnip. So it can last perfectly two weeks.

How to cook with kohlrabi

The kohlrabi are almost entirely edible, the thick bulb being the most appreciated part, as we have already pointed out. The skin can also be consumed, although it is usually removed because it is harder, fibrous and not very aesthetic. To do this, you just have to use a peeler sharp, until the pulp is whiter or yellowish, much softer and waterier.

Kohlrabi Slaw

Nabicol is suitable to be eaten raw, providing a crisp and very fresh bite, with nuances that are sometimes spicy but never approaching the intensity of radish. It is perfect for grate fine or coarse or cut into sticks and prepare a crunchy salad with carrot and cabbage, coleslaw style, or for German salad-like preparations with cooked potato and a yogurt or mayonnaise sauce. It is ideal for pickle and combine with sauerkraut.

Fits practically any cooking technique, like the other cabbages and radishes; it is perfect for cooking, frying, sautéing, steaming, stewing, enriching broths and soups or for roasting in the oven. In winter it is very popular as an ingredient in soups and is also perfect for turning into a puree or cream. We can combine it with potato or use it as a substitute for it, thus reducing the calories in the dishes and adding more vitamins.

Baked kohlrabi with feta cheese

Roasted Kohlrabi

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Wash the rutabagas, carrots and lemon very well. Lightly peel the vegetables only if necessary. Discard the hard part of the stems. Separate the leaves from the kohlrabi (if they have them) and reserve.

Chop into pieces in one bite. Place in a Baking dish with the garlic cloves and add the honey, the juice of half a lemon, the coriander and cumin seeds, and the zaatar to taste. Season with salt and pepper and add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Mix very well trying do not pile the pieces and bake for about 20 minutes. Lower the temperature to 180ºC after the first 10 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the reserved leaves and the washed parsley.

Stir and add the seeds and the almond, plus lemon zest. If the tray is very dry, add a little water and scrape the bottom. Bake for another 5-8 minutes. Serve with more lemon zest, parsley and chopped leaves, and crumbled cheese to taste.

Complete recipe | Baked kohlrabi spiced with nuts and feta cheese

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