Kohlrabi and beet gratin

Carols are playing on at least two local radio stations already, and lights displays are starting to sparkle.  This year, we’ve got travel plans sprinkled throughout the holiday season, and so it feels a little like crunch time too soon. Everything’s mashed together, and needs to be done earlier than seems appropriate, with a few stray Halloween decorations lingering around the neighborhood. Nevertheless, I’m ready to jump into some Christmas spirit. So, I’m making vegetable dishes that resemble poinsettias. As you do.

Well, in fact, believe it or not, the Christmasy, cranberry, twirled appearance of this dish was just a fluffy bonus. The real allure was the opportunity to try something new. That, and I’m still working on eating more vegetables throughout the day.  A very veggie daily diet is surprisingly tougher to attain than it sounds, sometimes. Especially as the seasons usher in cold and crispness, and we begin to crave soothing comforts, like coup, hot chocolate and tea. Ergo, not raw carrots. Not even “ants on a log”, which do make me smile, thinking about them.

I found a recipe for beet and celery root gratin I wanted to try, but Dave is not a fan of anything “celery” (except for the celery seeds he isn’t aware of adding extra savory flair). As it happened, organic red kohlrabi was on sale at Sprouts.  The label said to add to soups and stews, or slice thinly, raw, into salads. It also mentioned treating like a potato. Seemed a fair fit.

Without question, I love beets, but I hadn’t actually heard of kohlrabi before taking advantage of the Sprouts’ sale. Now, I think I am a fan. Also called “German turnip”, kohlrabi is mildly sweet, low in calories, and rich in vitamins and fiber. Stems, leaves, and root can all be consumed; the leaves, which can be prepared much like mustard or collard greens, are packed with nutrition, including B-complex vitamins, as well as vitamins K and A.  Much like other root vegetables, the fleshy bulb boasts a really pleasant texture–not too mushy–and absorbs and complements other flavors.

This veggie “dish” is such an easy side or snack. Ridiculously simple in preparation and ingredients. Maybe it isn’t the perfect vision of a poinsettia. I could be treating it a bit like a castle-cloud picture on that score. But, it does suit the season, and if I have some on hand as we fall into winter, keeping up the veggie goals won’t be all that ambitious after all.

Layer beet and kohlrabi slices in an oven-proof skillet.

 Kohlrabi and beet gratin

  • 2-3 medium beets
  • 2-3 kohlrabi
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Peel, halve, and thinly slice beets and kohlrabi.
  2. Alternately layer beet and kohlrabi slices in an ovenproof skillet. Pour orange juice and water over vegetables. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Bring to boil over medium heat. Cover and simmer 5 minutes.
  3. Cover with foil and place in the oven for 2o minutes. Uncover, raise the temperature to 400 F, and cook a further 10 minutes.

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