Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Stem Slaw

So, you’ve eaten the dark green part of your broccoli stalk, the most desirable part, the floret, the part that soaks up stir fry sauces and salad dressings like a little edible mop. Now you’ve got the rest of that stalk. You paid good money for it, or put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into growing it yourself. You can’t throw it away. Sure, you could compost it if you’ve got a compost heap already going. That sturdy stalk, however, sacrificed itself to form the very foundation from which those tasty florets were able to reach their full glory. It deserves better. I say, eat it.

You could make it into a soup, but I have yet to have great success with broccoli soups. My guess is that they are typically loaded with cheese for a reason. What I do with leftover broccoli stems is peel them, shred them and toss them with some kind of dressing that allows that humble stalk to graduate to slaw. You can buy broccoli slaw in bags in your supermarket produce department, but I’m sure you’ll pay about a bajillion percent more for that, along with the stalk-less florets sold nearby. Does broccoli need such deconstruction to satisfy our modern culinary needs? You make the call.

When I made my most recent bowl of stem slaw, I also added another shredded stem to the mix: kohlrabi. If you’re not familiar with kohlrabi, it’s a kind of Old World cabbage relative. Really, the part that is most tasty is basically a cabbage stem on steroids. The leaves grow out from this spherical stem, but they’re pretty puny in comparison. Kohlrabi ranges in size from that of a tennis ball up to softball-size and beyond in the variety known as “Kossak” (probably the Gigante cultivar.) I was only able to get a hold of those big ones (which are an amazing value in this part of the country) to make this salad. They taste a little like cabbage, a little like mild turnips, and if you have any leftover after making a slaw, they are great cut into sticks and munched on along with other crudite offerings or as a snack.

I combined caraway seeds and coriander seeds along with a little lemon juice in the creamy dressing for this slaw. Really, you could use just about any coleslaw dressing you like, or even the dressings used to make Asian-style cabbage salads. After all, kohlrabi and broccoli are just cabbage cousins anyway. I think all of the Brassica plants are undersung anyway, so let’s give their lowly (or in the case of kohlrabi, overachieving) stems and stalks at least a few moments to shine, and get our money’s worth in the process.

Broccoli Stem and Kohlrabi Slaw

Be sure to peel all of the tough outer layers from the broccoli stems and kohlrabi. The kohlrabi especially has some fibrous layers just beneath the skin that are best left out of a salad.

8 ounces kohlrabi, peeled
8 ounces broccoli stem, peeled
1 medium carrot, peeled
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed
½ teaspoon whole coriander seeds, crushed
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper½ cup onion, thinly sliced

1. Cut the peeled kohlrabi and broccoli stems into pieces that fit into the feed tube of a food processor with a shredding disk. Shred the kohlrabi, broccoli stem and carrot using the food processor shredding disk.

2. In a large bowl, combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, caraway seeds, coriander seeds, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.

3. Add the shredded kohlrabi, broccoli stem, carrot and onion to the bowl. Stir to coat well with the sour cream mixture.

Makes about 6 servings. Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days. (Leftovers may become watery.)

One year ago: Rhubarb Yogurt Cake

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