Food & Wine (July 2011)
There's only one reason we made this salad.
No, it's not because it looks like a salad that traveled back in time from the future.
And no, it's not because it's just about the most unusual-sounding dish we've seen in any magazine this year.
The truth is, we made it because we had kohlrabi in our fridge. Each year, our CSA gives us a bit of kohlrabi and every year we make slaw. And you know what? Slaw is good, but it can get a bit boring if you're not making barbecue or going on a picnic.
So we jumped at the chance to use our kohlrabi in a non-slaw dish. And this salad was so different that we had to try it.
This Kohlrabi, Fennel and Blueberry salad is featured in Food & Wine's Best New Chefs issue and comes from Stephanie Izard, winner of Season 4 of Top Chef and owner of The Girl and the Goat in Chicago. We haven't had a chance to visit one of her restaurants or make any of her food. In fact, we have no preconceived notions of what or how she cooks other than some vague memories of Top Chef and the knowledge that she has a book coming out this fall.
So we jumped in with clear eyes, full hearts.... Sorry, we've been watching a lot of Friday Night Lights.
Anyway, the ingredient list threw us for a bit of a loop because it includes some unexpected items. The vinaigrette, for instance, has nine ingredients, including maple syrup and grapeseed oil. Plus there's soy sauce, mayo and balsamic, which initially seems like an odd combination.
But we knew we were in for a treat once we tasted the finished vinaigrette. It tasted...deep. Sure, there was some sweetness, but it was also delightfully salty and sharp. Once it was paired with the other salad ingredients -- kohlrabi, fennel, almonds, blueberries and goat cheese -- it absolutely blew us away.
We took a gamble and served this to three guests (our friend Ralph, his mom and her sister) as the first course of a dinner party. Though they all agreed it was unusual, everyone raved about the salad and seemed genuinely excited to be trying kohlrabi.
It may look like something you'd eat on a trip to the moon, but it turns out this Kohlrabi, Fennel and Blueberry Salad is surprisingly accessible. Its flavors are deep, and the balance of sweet and savory strikes all the right notes. And a little "wow" factor never hurt anyone.
Total time: 30 minutes
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/4 pounds kohlrabi, peeled and very thinly sliced on a mandoline
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced on a mandoline
- 2 ounces semifirm goat cheese, such as Evalon, Garrotxa or Manchester, shaved (1/2 cup)
- 1 cup blueberries or pitted, halved sweet cherries
- 2 tablespoons torn mint leaves
Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the almonds on a pie plate and toast for about 7 minutes, until golden. Let cool.
In a mini food processor or blender, combine the ginger, shallot, vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard, soy sauce and maple syrup and puree. With the blender on, add the grapeseed oil in a thin stream and blend until creamy. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, toss the kohlrabi with the fennel, cheese, toasted almonds and dressing. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Add the blueberries and mint and toss gently. Serve right away.