Friday, July 29, 2011

Kohlrabi-Radish Salad

by Sheila Connolly

A week ago my daughter was seized by a sudden craving for serious breakfast food, and I, being of an acquiescent state of mind, agreed happily.  She did some online research and came up with a place I had never heard of, about ten miles from our home.:  Pogo's in East Bridgewater.

Off we went, through unfamiliar territory (mostly farm country, which I always forget exists around here) and arrived at lunchtime, but that wasn't a problem because all they serve there is breakfast, until 3:00 pm.  When we walked in, there were perhaps four other customers--and a crew taking pictures for a cable television segment of The Phantom Gourmet.

Now, some people might have backed out the door and sought other options, but I write for this blog, so how could I pass up the opportunity to watch the pros take pictures of food?  We settled ourselves in a booth, were handed humongous menus with a mind-boggling array of breakfast food choices, and I proceeded to take pictures of a guy taking pictures of food.  in fact, I almost took a picture of a woman taking pictures of the guy taking pictures.  Writing for MLK is doing strange things to me.

Don't you love the way the french toast matches
the flowers on the plate?
My daughter and I, after prolonged perusal of the menu, settled on our choices:  she opted for pumpkin pancakes, I chose french toast made of house-baked cardamom bread with almond glaze.  I finished mine; my daughter had to concede defeat after a mere five pounds or so of pancakes.

The camera crew (which arrived before we did and was still there when we left) kept rolling new dishes from the back of the restaurant, and taking more pictures.  I was immediately jealous of the large lights at their disposal, since I usually get by with my kitchen overhead.  I was also amused when the photographer, apparently not satisfied with the gargantuan stack of blueberry pancakes in front of him, sliced them in half and stacked the halves, resulting in a six-inch pile of pancake.  (Regrettably, he didn't eat any of the dishes he photographed.)

I hope to catch the show, but they were rather vague about when it might air.  I also hope to go back to the restaurant, although I calculate it may easily take me the rest of my life to work my way through the menu.

Since the cardamom in my french toast evoked happy memories of my Swedish step-grandmother's cardamom twist bread, I had hoped to present that to you this week, but (a) I can't find the recipe, although I'm sure it's somewhere in the house, and (b) it's really more of a holiday treat that a summer dish, since it's yeast-raised.  So I shifted gears to make something cool and healthy, using my more recent finds from our local farmers' market.

I am a newcomer to the joys of kohlrabi, which Wikipedia defines as a "low, stout cultivar of the cabbage," created by artificial selection for "lateral meristem growth."  Uh-huh. Basically it a softball-size round stem with a nice crunch and a mild flavor.

I also happened to have brought home some mild white radishes, so I couldn't resist combining the two.  Of course, the result was white on white, so I decided to spruce it up a bit with some parsley and some finely chopped red bell pepper.

Kohlrabi-Radish Salad

Serves four as a side dish

Remove the leaves and stems from a fresh kohlrabi and peel it.  Run it through the coarse grater attachment of your food processor.  (Okay, you could do it by hand if you insist.)

Scrub some radishes (there are many available varieties, large and small, bland through peppery--use what you can find fresh, in whatever quantity you choose).  You need to peel them only if they're large and tough.  Then shred them as you did the kohlrabi.

Remove the stem and membranes from a red sweet pepper (I happened to have some of the miniature ones on hand), and dice finely.

Chop a small bunch of fresh parsley (what size is a bunch?  depends on how much you like parsley)

Combine the ingredients.  Dress lightly with a vinaigrette or other salad dressing of your choosing (bottled is fine).  Do don't this too long before you intend to eat it or the salad will become soggy.

And enjoy! It's a light, quick dish with a nice earthy flavor and crunch--good for a summer side dish with whatever you've cooked on the grill.


  1. Your post include great detail of information so I will definitely share it with others.

  2. Wow, Sheila, that French toast sounds like it's worth a day's drive. Cardamom bread with almond glaze, mmmmm. If ever you do find that recipe for your step-gran's twist bread, please, please share! (Loved the people taking pictures of people taking pictures of food. Ha!)

    And congrats on your new release, BITTER HARVEST -- official pub Aug. 2nd, but I'll bet it's on a lot of store shelves this weekend! Cheers and...

    ~ Cleo
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  3. I'd have loved to be where they were taking pictures of food. I think I'd have had my telephoto lens on, clicking away, trying to learn from what they were doing!

    Sheila, this recipe makes my tummy growl. I've just discovered kohlrabi too, and I'm a fan. What's not to love about a vegetable that looks like a space alien and tastes light and fresh with just a bit of peppery snap? I even think my husband will enjoy this one. Thanks!

    Cannot wait to get the August releases. I'm really looking forward to Bitter Harvest and Murder By Mocha. Just perfect for forgetting the searing Midwest heat wave that won't die!

  4. The things you know, Sheila! This was very interesting. I've never tried kohlrabi, but will for sure.

    And I did love how the French toast platter matched the flowers on the plates.

  5. Fascinating post, Sheila. I wish I had been with you. Fabulous food and getting to watch it being photographed, too? I'm jealous! I, too, hope you find the recipe for the Swedish bread. I've developed a fondness for cardamom.

    I grew up eating kohlrabi that my mom grew in the garden. It's funny how habits form our (at least my) expectations. My initial reaction was -- you can eat kohlrabi raw? This sounds terrific. Now I'm going to have to haunt the farmer's market in search of kohlrabi!

    ~ Krista

  6. Kohlrabi! Something new for me to try. :) And how cool that you got to watch the food getting shot! I have a feeling they do it a lot more professionally than I do...ha!

  7. I used to love grazing in my aunt and uncle's garden and digging a kohlrabi from the ground, washing it off and noshing.
    This salad sounds yummy.

    I love finding great restaurants and I am highly envious of the one you found. Have fun on return visits.