Kohlrabi. Strange name, strange shape but fantastically tasty vegetable.
I fell in love with kohlrabi after the first time I bought one from a farmer’s market. I had no idea what to do with it at the time, but it has since become a favourite vege during the cooler months.
Despite looking a lot like a turnip, kohlrabi actually belongs in the brassica family. It’s flavour is somewhere between broccoli and cabbage but milder and sweeter and the texture is akin to that of broccoli stems (which I have been known to chew on whilst making dinner). The name comes from the German and roughly means cabbage turnip kohl – cabbage, rabi – turnip. It’s equally tasty raw or cooked. I am particularly fond of it as a gratin. In this recipe I double the brassica goodness with the addition of tuscan kale. Its great for vitamins K, A & C and is really easy to grow.
1 large kohlrabi – any colour will do, I used a green one this time
4 medium potatoes – I like Dutch Cream for their creamy buttery flesh
1 tightly packed cup tuscan kale leaves
12 slices hot sopressa salami
1 small red shallot
1 clove garlic
few sprigs thyme
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup grated mature cheddar
1/2 cup rough fresh breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 200 celsius.
Peel and thinly slice the kohlrabi and the potatoes. I use a mandolin (v slicer) as it makes the task so much easier. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend getting one, you will wonder how you lived without. The Beloved bought me mine for Valentine’s Day one year. What a sweetheart!
Keep the sliced potato in a bowl of water whilst you get the rest ready so that it doesn’t discolour.
Pile all the salami slices together and cut into strips about 3mm wide, then finely dice the garlic and shallot. Put a frying pan on medium heat and sauté the salami, shallot and garlic. As it is cooking slice the kale leaves in 1 cm strips. i find it easiest to do this the same way as the salami. Make a pile of the leaves then slice from the top of the leaf down towards the stem. Add the kale to the pan and stir through. Cook until the kale is just soft. You don’t want it completely wilted.
Lightly grease a 20cm x 30cm rectangular ovenproof dish and start layering your ingredients. I did a layer of potato, then a layer of kohlrabi, then scattered half the kale mixture, then repeated it, ending with a layer of mixed potato and kohlrabi.
Pour the milk and stock over the sliced vegetables, then scatter the top with the cheese and the breadcrumbs. For my breadcrumb, I hand tore/crumbled the end of a sourdough loaf I had. It meant I got nice big rustic crumbs which add a good textural element once it is cooked. Sprinkle with some thyme leaves and a crack of pepper and salt. Many gratins call for knobs of butter to make the top go crispy. I have opted for a healthier version and simply gave the top a light spray of olive oil.
Cover with foil and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for a further 30 minutes or until the top is golden and crisp.
This dish is easily turned into a vegetarian option by omitting the salami and substituting the chicken stock with vegetable stock. If you make it this way you will need to check the seasoning of the kale. I didn’t season mine, letting the salami do that for me.