“Kohlrabi is a vegetable that is part of the mustard family (aka brassicaceae), whose ancestors are wild cabbage and wild turnips,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, R.D. and wellness manager for Cleveland Clinic's Center for Lifestyle Medicine. According to Kirkpatrick, it looks similar to a turnip —a round-sized bulb with a stem and large, edible leaves. “The stem may have purple, white, or green skin but the flesh is white," she says.
Now that you know how to find it at the supermarket, you're probably wondering what exactly makes this unassuming veggie so beneficial. First, it’s high in potassium. The reason that's a big deal? "Increased potassium intake & decreased sodium is associated with reduced blood pressure levels and increased bone mineral density,” explains Kirkpatrick. “And even a moderate deficiency in potassium leads to elevated blood pressure which can lead to unwanted aging on the inside and outside of the body.” Kohlrabi also has ample vitamin C, says Kirkpatrick — about 54 mg per 100 grams — meaning it contains more vitamin C than cauliflower, strawberries, melon, orange juice, and grapefruit juice. And, last but certainly not least, it has high water content and fiber.
Kohlrabi is also part of the microgreen fam, a nutrient category we've already dived into due to its buzzworthy health benefits. “Purple kohlrabi is considered to be a microgreen, since it provides a punch of flavor, color, and nutrition, however, there is a lack of scientific research to justify the nutrient content of microgreens and different microgreens provide varying levels of vitamins and carotenoids,” cautions Kirkpatrick.
And, the most important part: How does it taste? “Kohlrabi has a flavor that is similar to a turnip but is sweeter and milder,” says Kirkpatrick. And you can whip some up basically any way you please. “If the Kohlrabi is young and tender, it can be eaten in thin, raw slices with dip,” she says. Or, hey, go crazy and steam it. “Kohlrabi leaves can also be steamed and sautéed in oil and garlic — similar to spinach or chard,” says Kirkpatrick. Her simple sautée recipe: Wash and cut kohlrabi bulk into slices or bite-size pieces; add to a saucepan with a half inch of water, a dash of salt, and cover. Then add zucchini, squash, and other vegetables, some olive oil, onions, garlic, and spices. Stir-fry for 5-7minutes. Bon appetit!
Illustrated by Zhang Qingyun