Kohlrabi is King

If you are in the tri-state area, you may be able to tune in today at noon to Leonard Lopate's riveting radio show on WNYC -- 820 AM -- where I, and Alice Walton, the farm coordinator from Katchkie Farm (upstate New York) will be talking about "the new meat" -- ROOT vegetables. They are getting the respect they deserve and have, so to speak, come out of the closet (or root cellar.) Leonard's producer mentioned that we would be exploring the glories of winter's weirder vegetables -- namely kohlrabi and salsify and, in the spirit of full disclosure, I have never made either one. I am currently in love with parsnips and rutabagas, and you will find many recipes for these rapacious roots in Radically Simple (from parsnip fries to a dreamy rutabaga, creme fraiche & havarti torte that looks a lot like a birthday cake.) But in the last few days, kohlrabi is king in our house. Both green and purple varieties, I have roasted, boiled, steamed, and fried them, and slivered them raw. Kohlrabi, known as a German turnip, is a low, stout, spherical relation to the cabbage that will grow most anywhere. Its leaves can also be eaten. In fact, kohlrabi is the "national veg" of Kashmir where it can be found on many kitchen tables, three or four times a week. The taste and texture is similar to that of a broccoli stalk but it is sweeter and the flesh is more translucent. Hands down we now have two favorite ways of eating this at home. Boiled whole, then refrigerated until very cold, I peel them (the skin slips off easily) and cut them into meticulous 1/2-inch cubes. I dab each with a bit of creme fraiche and sea salt. That's it! I know this will be my next hors d'oeuvres for a party, topped off with a smidge of caviar. Gorgeous alabaster cubes of sweet earthiness and salinity. Our second favorite way is to boil and chill them, cut them into 1-inch cubes and fry them in olive oil until golden brown and crispy all over. We sprinkle them with salt and West Indian curry powder. Fabulous! Healthy! Meaty and fleshy! Stay tuned to Roots, part 2 tomorrow.