“Come to Chicago,” Marc’s family said.
“We’re going to a wedding in Chicago,” they said.
But as the rental car pulled out of the parking lot at O’hare and the Chicago skyline shrunk in the rearview window, I realized I was not going to Chicago.
A far-flung suburb of the Windy City was a better description for where I ended up that weekend in March. But no matter my destination and the freezing temperatures, my eating tour of Illinois could not be stopped.
And number one on my list of restaurants I needed to visit as a respite from the cold was Girl and the Goat. Six weeks out from my eating party I could only get a reservation for nearly 10pm at the goat. In the end it worked out because I had to take a nearly two hour train from the ‘burbs to go to actual Chicago. I could not be stopped. Once I shook off the bone-chilling shivers and settled in with a drink, the hostess was quick to whisk us away to our table. Which wasn’t a table, but bar stools that butted up against the line in the kitchen that gave a perfect view of the slew of chefs cooking. Umm, thank you restaurant gods.
We ordered a flurry of dishes; goat empanadas, warm rolls with some sort of green butter and a perfect chicken dish with grilled naan and slaw that I can’t even describe because it was so delicious but we were so full from the rest of the meal that we barely made a dent in it. If anyone knows what the hell I’m talking about please send a recipe. I will be forever indebted to you.
To cut through the meat and carb parade, shallow bowls of beets and cauliflower provided a much needed vegetal quality to the meal. But possible my second favorite taste of the night, after the transcendent mysterious chicken of course, was the cool kohlrabi salad. Slicked with a sweet but umami packed mayonnaise based dressing, the crisp kohlrabi was everything a winter salad was meant to be.
And even though it took me more than 25 years to encounter kohlrabi, it was pretty easy to find once I got home. Kohlrabi is crunchy like a radish but more mild in flavor. It could be friends with jicama and plays nicely with apples.
The salad I had at Girl and the Goat was made up of large cubes of kohlrabi but the recipe I found for the salad calls for thinly sliced bulbs using a mandoline. Instead of slicing my fingers open on my cheap mandoline, I opted for a small dice for the kohlrabi and substituted sweet Honeycrisp Apples for the fennel that the original recipe calls for. I also dropped the blueberries since they aren’t too awesome in the dead of winter.
The gnarly light green bulbs may look alien in their natural form. Once peeled and diced the vegetable looks familiar like pieces of apple or radish. Little crunchy cubes may fly as a salad or side dish at a restaurant but I need a little more heft to make it worthwhile at home. Thinly sliced napa cabbage adds bulk and turns this into more of a Kohlrabi slaw instead of salad. This can easily become a main for lunch or light dinner by adding shredded chicken or crumbled goat or feta cheese. Cheese makes everything better.
As quick as it is to cut up a few vegetables, the dressing comes together faster. I had everything I needed on the door of my fridge and in my cabinet of randoms, making this an easy end of the week side dish. I usually don’t finish all of this slaw in one day and find it keeps fine for a second day. The only noticeable difference was that on the second day the dressing started to pool in the bottom of the bowl, I’m guessing from the water in the cabbage leaves. If that is a concern for you then I suggest dressing only the apples and kohlrabi and folding in the cabbage when you are ready to eat.
- 1/2 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- salt and pepper
- 3 kohlrabi bulbs, peeled, 2 cups chopped
- 2 small apples, 2 cups chopped
- 1 small head of napa cabbage, 3 cups thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup whole almonds, chopped
- Mince the shallot and ginger.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard, soy sauce, honey, and vegetable oil with the shallot and ginger until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste
- Lop off the the leafy tops of the kohlrabi, you only want to use the bulbs for this recipe. To help stabilize the kohlrabi, slice off the root end so it has a flat surface it stand on.
- Peel the bulbs and then dice into bite-size pieces.
- You can peel the apple or not, totally your preference, and then dice the apple. The apple pieces should be similar in shape and size to the kohlrabi.
- Thinly slice your cabbage into ribbons.
- Toast 1/2 cup of nuts in a small saute pan over medium high heat. You know the nuts are done when they start to brown and smell toasty. Once cooled, roughly chop the almonds.
- In a large bowl, toss together the kohlrabi, apples, almonds and dressing. You can either add the cabbage now and serve, or wait to add the cabbage when you are ready to eat.