From the Witch’s Bedtable


One of my Yule gifts was a lovely book, The New American Herbal, by Stephen Orr. It’s still way too cold to be doing any planting here in Columbia’s District, but it’s the perfect time of year to be reading and dreaming about the garden I want to grow this Spring. Here’s what Mr. Orr has to say about chives:

Most people aren’t that sure what to do with kohlrabi, whose bulbous stems look like something from a garden in another galaxy. I wasn’t certain how to prepare it until a few years back when I had it raw and sliced very think in a salad at Fergus Henderson’s St. John restaurant in London. When cooked, kohlrabi can be a little skunky like the cabbage relative it is, but eaten this way it is light, crispy, and completely delicious with a hint of appealing earthiness.

“Wait,” I can hear you saying, “this isn’t about chives. It’s about kohlrabi, which everyone knows is nothing like a chive. It’s not even an herb; it’s a vegetable.”

True, but just be patient. Mr. Orr continues:

My version includes Asian pear, capers, and herb flowers, but don’t get too hung up on those specifics if you don’t have them handy; mild apples and fresh dill or chive leaves can be used instead:

3 or 4 medium kohlrabi stems, leaves removed and any tough spots cut away
1 medium lemon
3 or 4 medium Asian pears (or substitute a mild apple [such as] Golden Delicious)
1 Tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
2 Tablespoons garlic chive flowers, stalks removed, flower tops only, or 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives

See, I told you.

2 Tablespoons dill flowers, stalks removed, flower tops only, or substitute 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill leaves
3 Tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt to taste

Peel the kohlrabi stems with a potato peeler and put them in enough water to cover, adding a little lemon juice so that they don’t discolor. Drain them and slice on a mandolin or as thinly as possible with a sharp knife.

Slice the unpeeled Asian pears the same way, working quickly so that they don’t discolor. Place both he kohlrabi and the pear slices in a medium bowl. Squeeze the rest of the lemon over them and mix. Add the capers, garlic chive flowers, and dill flowers and toss with olive oil and sea salt to taste. Serve immediately.

I may not be able to wait for Summer; maybe I can find chive flowers at Balducci’s.

Picture found here.


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