By | Vegetables | 9 Comments
Perhaps, like me, you’ve never given the vegetable kohlrabi a second thought, or even a first thought.  I bought it several years ago when I was food styling. It looked cool, so I tucked it into a display of artful vegetables in a photo. Did I eat it? Probably, because I hate to throw food away, but it left no memorable impression. As Grigson says in her book Jane Grigsons Vegetable Book “There are better vegetables than kohlrabi. And worse”.

While in Paris this May I went with friends to Septime, a restaurant très à la mode in the 11th arrondissement. Well this isn’t a review about the food, perhaps another time, but the first course included kohlrabi or chou-rave as I discovered it is called in French. Kohlrabi is a type of cabbage, not a celery as the French name would have it. Nor it is a turnip or a root. It is a stem is swollen into a turnip shape. The name comes from Germany where they love it.

Very thin slices covered a big fat white asparagus, that wasn’t quite cooked enough for my taste and there was a dollop of honey on the side to counteract the kohlrabi’s bitterness. The dish was interesting, not great, then I went to London. London and kohlrabi aren’t obviously related until you think of Yotam Ottolenghi.

I share a bond with Yotam, we both lost out to the fabulous Molly Stevens in the cookbook awards, so I had to see just what he was up to. I visited his Belgravia store where I fell in love with the roasted beetroot and rhubarb salad. The next day I had lunch with a friend who had picked up all the food from the same store. At lunch it was the dressing on the green salad that stole my attention. I  wanted his book, Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes From London’s Ottolenghi. I bought the original edition with weights, not cups.

His cabbage and kohlrabi salad caught my attention, see this story is going somewhere. I had all the ingredients on hand, except of course the kohlrabi. The mixture of cabbage, kohlrabi, dried sour cherries and alfalfa sprouts with lots of dill, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic salt and pepper was very good. Now I am taking kohlrabi seriously.

Grigson notes as well as being a popular in Eastern Europe, kohlrabi is beloved in Israel. That no doubt explains Yotam’s deft hand. Give it a try, but be mindful of Grigson’s advice and buy kohlrabis (yes it sounds odd but it’s one kohlrabi, two kohlrabis) sized somewhere between a golf and a tennis ball, any bigger and it will be as tough.

What to eat?

By | Fruit, Organic, Paris, Pesticides, Vegetables | No Comments

I was sent this link today from edible communities – it made me think again about what I am buying. I really hate this time of year – all the fruit and vegetables look rather sad. I’ve had enough of winter roots and I’ve eaten kilos of rapini, black kale (organic I’m happy to say) and their relatives – too far north for any local asparagus yet. The choice of fruit is even worse, hothouse rhubarb is the only thing that is new but the supply is spotty. Local apples are tired and soft and the others are worn out and bruised from their long voyage from the southern hemisphere. And I don’t want to eat them or the pears, I’ve had my fill last autumn and I remember how wonderful they tasted. A few blood oranges are still around and mangoes galore. I am not a tropical fruit lover but my husband is so it’s more mangoes and today I broke down and bought a pineapple – I just wanted some fruit I liked. With relief I note they are on low in pesticides.
Out in my garden, despite the return of frigid temperatures, signs of spring are emerging. My hardy gooseberry bush is covered in leaves and blossoms, the red currant and the raspberry canes are sending out green shoots, even my wild strawberries are waking up from their winter slumber. Out on my deck my fig tree, covered in bright green leaves, is bravely resisting the cold winds. My home-grown fruit however is a long, long way away. So for the next week, until we leave for Paris, it is pineapple and mangoes. I know, on the other side of the Atlantic there will be white asparagus and cherries, baby peas and new potatoes – I can hardly wait.