Fresh, bright and bracing. This might describe the weather today or, in our case, the flavors of the beautiful turnips and kohlrabi dotting the farmers markets, as well as tables full of fresh ginger root. I’ve combined it all into a Sliced Turnip, Kohlrabi and Red Cabbage Salad with a Ginger-Lime Vinaigrette, inspired by my favorite green papaya salad found in Thai cuisine.
This week’s farmers market catch is absolutely spectacular in flavor and textures but can be a little scary at first glance. Turnips are sometimes passed by at the market because they are confused with the aged purple turnips found in the grocery store. These old and usually large turnips really work best in soups, stews or roasted for a while in a hot oven (but really, what doesn’t?). Fresh white Japanese turnips are so very tender and sweet with only the slightest hint of bitter, just enough to round out the flavor.
Kohlrabi also often sits alone on a market table. I watch shoppers walk by wondering what to do with this root that looks almost otherworldly, its thin cords wrapping around its body and up to its leaves. Kohlrabi is often found white, pale green or in beautiful shades of purple. There is nothing to fear. This is a very versatile vegetable and very easy to prepare. Once peeled, the white interior is very similar to turnips but with a flavor that is even a bit milder.
I think the delicate crunchy texture of the kohlrabi and turnips make me want to eat these raw. Even when sliced thinly (a mandoline comes in handy again…or a food processor with the slicing blade), both vegetables hold their own. Tossed with a sweet, sour and salty dressing and topped with whatever tender greens I have for the week, we find ourselves reaching for this dish often as a meal for lunch or as a side dish with grilled salmon.
So, don’t be spooked by the knobby roots or seemingly scary knobs with sprouts sticking out haphazardly. You only need to fear missing out on this season’s special offerings. With the cold weather quickly approaching, these very special fresh vegetables will not last too much longer. Save the scares for Halloween and enjoy the week!
- -1 bunch of white Japanese turnips (about 1 lb or 5-6 small to medium turnips)
- -1 quarter red cabbage
- -3 medium Kohlrabi bulbs
- -1½-inch piece of ginger, peeled *
- -1 lime, squeezed (about 3 Tablespoons lime juice)
- -1 Tablespoon fish sauce
- -1 teaspoon honey or brown sugar
- -handful of roasted pistachios or peanuts (optional)
- Remove the greens from the kohlrabi and turnips. If they are in good shape, rinse, dry and store wrapped in towels in a bag to use later in the week.**
- Remove the core from the red cabbage. Place a knife at the top corner on a diagonal and slice to create thin slices. Or, use the slicing blade on a food processor.
- Wash and peel the kohlrabi and turnips using a vegetable peeler. Slice thinly using a mandoline or the slicing blade of the food processor.
- Grate the ginger using a microplane grater, or chop finely.
- Combine the lime, fish sauce and honey or sugar into a small glass mixing bowl and microwave for about 12 seconds, or in a small saucepan on low heat, until the honey or sugar easily dissolves.
- Add the ginger, stir to combine and taste for seasoning. Add more fish sauce or lime, if desired.
- Place all the vegetables in a large shallow bowl, add the vinaigrette and toss to combine.
- Serve immediately over a bed of fresh greens and top with nuts, if using.
- I do not like this the next day. So, if preparing in advance, prep the vegetables and vinaigrette and store separately until ready to eat, then combine and serve.
**Turnip and kohlrabi greens are usually best cooked. We often sauté in olive oil and some minced garlic.