CSA Week 5, and Asian Slaw with Kohlrabi, Daikon and Hakurei Turnips
Our CSA Share this week held some new goodies: yellow summer squash, garlic (we should be getting one head every week from now on until the end of the season, hooray!), kohlrabi, and a big fat cucumber, in addition to rainbow chard, arugula, daikon, and field greens.
And my heart leapt with joy to peek inside our fruit share bag and see these: enough cherries to fill a huge bowl! They were mostly of the sweet, dark red variety, which I love to eat fresh, straight-from-the-hand. Also mixed in were a few of the beautiful golden-and-red-blush Queen Anne cherries, which are sour and great to use in cooking. I can’t tell you how happy I am that cherry season is upon us; cherries are in my top 5 all-time favorite fresh fruits and I look forward to July every year when I can gorge on them. I had heard that the crop might be diminished this year due to all the rain we had (many of the cherries may have split from the excess water), so I was doubly happy to receive this surprise.
When we first began our CSA share adventures several years ago, kohlrabi was entirely new to me. It’s kind of a bizarre-looking vegetable; the shape (with leaves on) always reminds me of an octopus, and (with the leaves off) seems similar to some kind of spaceship, or alien, or deep-sea creature. Kohlrabi comes in either pale green or deep purple, the bulb end growing right on top of the ground with the leaf stalks jutting out of the bulb at regular intervals. It’s in the brassica family, like cabbage, and is super-nutritious: which is why it’s kind of sad that it’s so underappreciated and unknown in this country (apparently many Eastern European and Asian countries use it as a staple in their cooking!) We love to cut it into matchsticks and just eat it raw (something I highly recommend doing anyway if you get a new vegetable, just to see what it tastes like in in its unaltered form). The texture is nice and crunchy, and the taste is kind of like a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. It’s great if you mix it with matchsticks of something a bit sweeter, like an apple or pear, but it’s also terrific marinated with a little acid and used as an ingredient in a slaw.
I just need to say here how much I have been craving slaws and pickled things lately. Maybe it’s because we’re into summer and I’m trying to get my fill of all the crunchy, super-flavorful things I can before descending back into the root vegetable saga of winter, or maybe my tastes are just developing more and more into a pickle-lover. I saw the pickled carrots and sugar snap peas that Whitney made a few weeks ago and wanted to jump through my screen and grab a handful. Slaws are a great compromise; we munch on slaws here all summer, as side dishes or a different way to eat vegetables in their own right. I suppose I should make it clear that I’m talking mostly about any kind of slaw except the traditional mayo-based cole slaw; while I have had good versions of that — Barefoot Contessa’s is a winner — I mostly steer clear of the gloppy thick versions. I do, however, adore light, crisp vinegar-based slaws made with just some vinegar, sugar, a little oil, salt, and whatever else you use to flavor them. They generally get better with time as the flavors meld, they’re great to bring to barbecues or picnics (no worry about the perishability of mayonnaise, to boot), and their acidity makes a great counterpoint to things like rich burgers or pork or sausages.
As a bonus, if you have a shredding blade on your food processor, you can generally make quick work of prepping all the ingredients. For this slaw, I used kohlrabi, hakurei turnips, daikon, cucumber (seeded first), and scallions from our CSA share, shredded them up and mixed them with some carrot, and tossed the mixture with a little rice vinegar, sesame oil, canola oil, salt and sugar. It made a great crisp counterpoint to a stir-fry we had the other night, and I’ve been munching on leftovers all week.
One note about the recipe: I found that for these vegetables, the shredding blade on the food processor cut them quite thinly, so the slaw definitely softened over time — therefore, if you’re going that prep route, it’s best to serve it the same day you make it. You could also just cut the vegetables into julienne, and the matchsticks would likely hold up for a bit longer.
Asian Slaw with Kohlrabi, Daikon and Hakurei Turnips
an Eggs on Sunday original
There are two ways to prep the vegetables for this slaw: with the shredding blade on your food processor, or just by slicing them into julienne with your knife. The shredding blade on the food processor cuts them quite thinly, so the slaw will soften more quickly over time — therefore, if you’re going that prep route, it’s best to serve it the same day you make it. Julienne matchsticks will likely hold up for a bit longer.
You could add a handful of chopped cilantro to the slaw; it would make a great addition.
1 daikon radish
2 carrots, peeled
1 kohlrabi, peeled
1/2 large cucumber, sliced vertically in half and seeds scraped out with a spoon
2 medium hakurei (salad) turnips
4 large or 6 small scallions
4 tablespoons rice vinegar, divided
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Shred or julienne the vegetables. Toss them in a bowl with 3 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Let stand for 15 minutes to soften the vegetables, then drain the excess liquid that accumulates at the bottom of the bowl. Add the canola oil, sesame oil, and a splash of additonal rice vinegar (I added another tablespoon) until it’s the level of acidity you like. Serve immediately, or store in the fridge until ready to serve.
Makes about 6 servings.