Originating from wild cabbage in northern Europe and widely eaten today in Germany and India, kohlrabi has yet to really catch on in the United States. Until now, that is.
"It looks like an alien from outer space and the taste is out of this world," said farmer Jeff Larkey of Route 1 Farms.
Vibrant purple bulbs with rubbery skin and a crown of purple tendrils poking out of it, these things look nothing like any other vegetable at the market right now, and Larkey is growing a whole bunch in his 800-foot long rows (that's a lot of kohlrabi) up the coast near Wadell Creek. Not only is it growing quite well there, people are trying it and coming back for more.
So what do they taste like?
"They're the texture of a broccoli stalk, so they're kind of like turnips in a way, and they actually have a little bit of the spice of a radish," said Josh of Route 1 Farms as I handed over a buck fifty for three.
Don't let the word "turnip" deter you: kohlrabi is extremely flavorful, with a crunchy white flesh that has a buttery, slightly-radishy taste, only way better.
"You can eat the leaves like if they were collards but most people just eat the bulb parts, and nick off the other parts," said Larkey. "The bigger they get the tougher the skin is, and actually the better taste is when they are really small. It's a more intense flavor."
Kohlrabi is delicious raw, either sliced or grated into a salad, and goes really well with mixed greens or kale.
Paul Cocking, of Gabriella Cafe in Santa Cruz, recommended: "peel it, slice it, and eat it. It's good raw. It's good braised too."
"And then of course everything tastes good sauteed in butter and garlic," added Larkey.
Although he's grown kohlrabi off and on in the past, Larkey says he'll have it consistently all summer long, if not longer.
"Its just like kale, it grows year round. Just getting people to eat it is the project that we're trying to do," said Larkey.
Try making a kale salad with grated kohlrabi, cranberries and toasted sunflower seeds. Just massage your kale leaves with olive oil and lemon juice and add some balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, garlic and the rest of your ingredients. It's delicious the first day and even better the second day.
Have you ever eaten kohlrabi? Ever heard of it before today? Tell us in the comments!