Shaved Kohlrabi Salad with Basil and Parmesan
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Kohlrabi once was a vegetable I stared at blankly. Now I seek it out. Last Sunday, I spotted a basket of the alien bulbs at the Barber’s Farm table at the Schenectady Greenmarket, and I bought half a dozen to bring with me to CT so I could make this salad. Yesterday I did the same.
Unless you subscribe to a CSA or grow kohlrabi yourself, you may not know kohlrabi very well, if at all—I’ve never seen it in a grocery store. It’s very mild in taste, almost like a cross between a turnip and an apple, but it doesn’t have the bite of a turnip—it’s sweeter and less assertive. (FYI: Kohlrabi is a variety of cabbage in the Brassica family—same family as turnips but different species.)
When shaved thinly and tossed with salt and vinegar, kohlrabi softens, becoming pliable in just about 10 minutes. And when it’s then tossed with olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano, and fresh herbs, it is incredibly refreshing and delicious. I haven’t attempted any other dressing, because I find this one to be so nice and simple this time of year, but I imagine it would take to any number of dressings given its neutral flavor.
Barber’s Farm says they’ll likely carry kohlrabi through the fall, so if you live locally, you’ve got a source—woohoo!
PS: Pickled Kohlrabi
Here’s a play-by-play: gather your kohlrabi.
Shave it thinly with a mandoline or a knife—you absolutely can use a knife if you don’t have a mandoline. Kohlrabi isn’t as tough as it looks.
Nice additions: basil and Parmigiano Reggiano:
Season the kohlrabi with salt and vinegar; then let it sit for 10-15 minutes:
Add olive oil and herbs and toss:
Add parmesan and toss again:
Transfer to a platter and serve:
Kohlrabi tastes like a cross between a turnip and an apple, and when it’s shaved thinly and tossed with oil and vinegar, Parmigiano Reggiano, and some fresh herbs, it is so refreshing and delicious. If you live locally, Barber’s Farm at the Schenectady Greenmarket has it from late summer through the fall.
This is more of a guide than a recipe. The keys are:
- Sprinkle salt and vinegar over thinly sliced kohlrabi and let it sit for 10 minutes or until it softens and becomes pliable.
- Then add olive oil, herbs, shaved parmesan and toss.
- Use equal parts oil and vinegar or more vinegar—kohlrabi can take it. I actually use a 2:1 ratio of vinegar to oil. Colavita white balsamic is my preference.
- Sizes of kohlrabi bulbs vary, but you can estimate about 1 bulb per person, so if you want the salad to serve 4 people, use 4 kohlrabi bulbs.
- 1 to 2 kohlrabi, or more or less (see notes)
- nice, flaky sea salt such as Maldon or kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar or more as needed
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Parmigiano Reggiano, shaved with a peeler, to taste
- fresh herbs such as basil, chives, tarragon, or dill
- Peel the kohlrabi: Use a paring knife to cut off each end to create a flat surface. Rest the kohlrabi on one of the flat surfaces and use the knife to cut off the thick skin. Peel the remaining skin with a peeler.
- Slice thinly: I like to use a mandoline, but you absolutely can use a knife to cut it thinly—kohlrabi isn’t as tough as it looks.
- Season it: Spread the slices out in a large bowl (I like this one—note: it’s huge), sprinkle evenly with the sea salt. If you have to layer up the slices for space reasons, season one layer, then season the layer on top. Sprinkle with the vinegar and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes or until the slices soften and are pliable.
- Add the olive oil and basil (or other herbs) and toss with your hands to coat. Taste. Add more salt and vinegar to taste as needed. If you want to add more olive oil, do so as well.
- Add the parmesan and toss gently. I like to add the parmesan at the very end or even shave it over top to prevent it from getting too broken up, but this is mostly for aesthetic reasons. Serve.
- Category: Salad
- Method: Shaved
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: kohlrabi, salad, basil, parmesan, olive oil, vinegar, Maldon, sea salt,