Cooking, like writing, is a process of discovery. You stand/sit at the counter/desk, gather/open your ingredients/notebook/laptop, start chopping/scribbling/tapping, and pretty soon you’ve got, well, something in front of you that looks kind of like a meal/prose.
You taste/read it. You think to yourself, hmm, well, that’s not exactly was I was going for, but it’s got a little something and I want to see where it goes. So you add some more salt/punctuation, and you tap in a few spices/adjectives. You tinker with the overall presentation for a few minutes. And then, voilà! The draft is complete, and it’s on its way out of the kitchen/office/bedroom because these things tend to come with deadlines, both self-imposed and externally mandated.
I have never made anything with kohlrabi before, but I might as well have been tipsy on my voyage to the Silver Lake Farmer’s Market this morning: everything looked amazing, and I had to have it. Rainier cherries, Medjool dates, Saturn peaches, green beans, pluots, cage-free eggs, cantaloupe, and kohlrabi were all tossed into my shopping bag, and I couldn’t wait to make salad for lunch.
A quick Google search informed me that kohlrabi can be served cooked or raw, and my salad initiative led me to the latter. Having semi-retired my mandoline (see “black radish chips”), it made sense for me to grate the hearty little bulbs on my container grater. Once it was all shredded, I whipped up a mustard vinaigrette, added some salt, mixed it all up, and whaddayaknow?
I’d made slaw.
Delicious slaw, I should say, but slaw nonetheless, and not a salad at all. But I’m not the type to be discouraged by a salad dream deferred, because I have a secret weapon. Let me introduce you to my leetle friend: cantaloupe.
What my lovely model, JM, is helping me illustrate here is that cantaloupe is the Renaissance man of the fruit kingdom (if that is indeed a kingdom — and if it is, I want to go there when I die). You can dice it up and make a fruit salad. You can wrap it in slices of prosciutto and make an appetizer. You can cut a hole in it and make a monocle. And so on and so forth.
So, armed with my new farmer’s market cantaloupe and my freshly grated slaw, I created something that, according to JM, looked a lot like the produce equivalent of chowder in a bread bowl. Except it’s way healthier.
Kohlrabi Slaw with Mustard Vinaigrette
-2 kohlrabi bulbs
-1/4 cup vinegar (I used a mix of white balsamic and fig balsamic)
-1 tbs olive oil
-1 tsp Dijon mustard (I like the crunch of the seeds)
-1/2 tsp salt
-1-2 leaves basil, sliced into fine ribbons
-1/4 cup nuts or hulled sunflower seeds (optional)
Peel the tough green skin off the kohlrabi bulbs with a hardy vegetable peeler, and grate the bulbs over the larger holes on your grater — if it’s too fine, it will turn to mush — into a mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix your vinegar, oil, mustard, salt, and sunflower seeds (I added these to make the meal more filling, but you can leave them out). Pour the vinaigrette over the kohlrabi and mix well.
Slice a cantaloupe in half, cross-wise. Scoop out the seeds. Then scoop out a little more to make a nice little bowl for your slaw. To keep the cantaloupe bowl steady in your ceramic bowl, lop off the bottom inch of the fruit to make a flat surface. Eat any leftover strips of cantaloupe quickly, before anyone sees you. Fill the bowls with slaw, top with the basil, and dig in. Summer never tasted so accidentally awesome.