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Special Report: Aliens have Invaded the KH Garden!!

They're purple! They have sparse antenna-looking leaves poking up from random places! They're round and they're invading our garden!!! Is it an alien?.....

purple kohlrabi
Purple Kohlrabi growing in the Kitchen Harvest garden.

No, it's purple Kohlrabi! I have a friend who once found these beauties at her local farmer's market and called me to ask what these alien-looking vegetables were. Kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage family - the name comes from the German "kohl" meaning "cabbage" and "rabi" meaning "turnip" - but they're much sweeter than the name suggests. They come in green and purple varieties, both of which have a creamy white interior. The bulb (technically, it's the swollen stem) has a juicy crunch and can be eaten raw in salads or roasted, like a turnip, and the greens can be cooked and added to dishes, as well. They are high in vitamin C and a good source of fiber and potassium, not to mention phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and iron. Their purple skin is loaded with anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that can help boost the immune system.

Now that you've got the basics, let's give them a taste! One of the most common recipes you'll find is a Kohlrabi Slaw - some variations have kohlrabi and apple; others are more traditional using the kohlrabi as you would any cabbage. But I like to find more interesting recipes that really feature the whole vegetable and while this recipe does have a base of lentils and couscous, I like that it uses both the bulb and the leaves. It's also a perfect vegan main course for the summer!

Curried Lentil, Kohlrabi and Couscous Salad

Curried lentils, kohlrabi and couscous on a bed of spinach with a light curry dressing.
Curried Lentil, Kohlrabi and Couscous Salad


  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sweet curry powder

  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed

  • 2 /3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 16-ounce package red lentils (about 2 1/4 cups)

  • 1-2 large kohlrabi (about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds); leaves stemmed, thinly sliced; bulb peeled, cut into 1/3-inch dice (about 3 cups)

  • 1 cup plain couscous (about 6 ounces)

  • 1 cup chopped green onions

  • 1 6-ounce package fresh baby spinach

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint


  1. Combine white wine vinegar, curry powder, and pressed garlic in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

  2. Cook lentils and kohlrabi leaves in heavy large saucepan of boiling salted water until lentils are barely tender but not too soft, about 5 minutes. (Don't overcook or they'll turn to mush!) Drain; rinse under cold water to cool. Drain again.

  3. Bring 1 1/4 cups water to boil in same saucepan; remove from heat. Add 3 tablespoons dressing, sprinkle with salt, then stir in couscous. Cover pot and let stand 5 minutes. Transfer couscous to a medium bowl. Fluff couscous with a fork to separate grains and cool slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  4. Meanwhile, transfer lentils to a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup dressing, diced kohlrabi bulb, and chopped green onions; toss to coat. Season mixture to taste with salt and pepper.

  5. Arrange baby spinach leaves over a large rimmed platter. Drizzle spinach with 2 to 3 tablespoons of remaining dressing. Mound lentil mixture in center of platter over spinach leaves. Stir mint into couscous. Spoon couscous around lentils and serve with remaining dressing.

Credit: Bon Appetit magazine, August 2010


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