Roasted kohlrabi with lamb and prune sauce, and raw kohlrabi with macadamia cream
Having fled the latest Melbourne lockdown, I am lucky enough to be in a place where seasonality is less of an issue when buying fresh produce. What is readily available only during spring in the southern climes is now ripe for the picking in the subtropical Byron Bay region. Here the sun’s winter warmth is perfect for growing the likes of kohlrabi, a biennial cultivar of wild cabbage.
Kohlrabi, sometimes referred to as a German turnip, is closer to an apple than it is to a turnip. And the techniques for cooking it fall somewhere between the two.
The leaves of kohlrabi are tender and delicate, and therefore perfect for salads, while the bulb can be eaten both raw and roasted. Commonly kohlrabi is treated the same as cabbage or turnip and used in a slaw, while I love to treat the roasted vegetable as a “meat”.
By lightly salting kohlrabi it becomes an excellent snack. It’s sweet and complex and acts as a great crudité with creams or dips. So as much as it works as a standalone vegetable, kohlrabi is also a great vehicle for other flavours.
My previous column touched on the joys of cabbage. And while I’m pushing cruciferous vegetables as hero ingredients, with a varied approach there are no bounds to the applications.
To flip the script and have a vegetable in a meat sauce has been a modus operandi of mine for some time. To let a “meaty” vegetable carry a protein is a burden the humble kohlrabi can handle and, with the addition of complex sugars from prunes, it really becomes the vegetable it needs to be.
All I’m asking is that you give kohlrabi a chance.
- 2 small kohlrabi
- 500g lamb ribs
- 1 brown onion
- 60g prunes
- 40ml sherry vinegar
- 500g macadamia nuts
- 50ml macadamia oil
- 50ml apple cider vinegar
- salt to taste
- Pick the outer leaves from the kohlrabi and peel off the skin to the top third of both bulbs. Cut the most tender of the two into quarters and lightly salt. Set aside for 30 minutes.
- Roast the lamb ribs together with the onion (cut to roughly the same size as the kohlrabi bulbs) for 40 minutes at 180ºC. Add the prunes for a further five minutes, then deglaze the roasting tray with the sherry vinegar and then 1.2 litres of cold water.
- Tip all the ingredients into a small pot and boil gently for two hours before passing the stock through a fine strainer to extract as much prune as possible. Retain the liquid for finishing the roasted kohlrabi. Pick the meat from the bones and serve separately.
- Preheat the oven to 160ºC.
- Using a bar blender, blend the nuts with the rest of the ingredients and about two litres of water for three minutes, or until it resembles a smooth paste. Some adjustment of the water quantity may be necessary to get the right consistency (it should resemble a light pouring cream) depending on the age of the nuts.
- Strain through muslin and place a weight on top to extract all of the liquid before hand-squeezing to get the last bit of cream from the pulp.
- Place into a pot and bring to the boil, stirring constantly to stop the cream from sticking.
- Transfer to a bowl and continue stirring regularly until the mixture has cooled. Adjust the salt and vinegar as required.
- Lightly oil and roast the whole kohlrabi in the oven for 12 minutes. Towards the end of the roasting add the lamb prune sauce to the pan so the sauce permeates and glazes the kohlrabi.
- Push the raw kohlrabi together and serve on top of the macadamia cream. Finish with more macadamia oil as necessary.
- Place the roasted kohlrabi into a shallow bowl and finish with whatever sauce is left in the pan.
- Finish with salt flakes and serve the dishes either together or separately as part of a meal.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on June 26, 2021 as "Knobbly needs".
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