Winter Vegetables: Kohlrabi Turnip Gratin

Kohlrabi Turnip Gratin (01) by MeetaK 

Quite some time back Tom's professor told us about a simple and spiritual recluse he found on a vacation in a monastery. He spent a week leading a monastic life in total silence. I was fairly intrigued and contemplated the idea shortly, then filed it at the back of my head and forgot about it. But then I began hearing about similar vacations some friends and acquaintances had taken or were planning on taking and it took me into a deeper train of thought.

Why vacation in a monastery? The answer was not impassible and lay very much at hand after the year we experienced last year. Furthermore, at our New Year Eve's party and during chats with a few of my close blogger buddies I realized that it was not just us who had experienced a difficult year for diverse reasons. So as of late, I find myself pondering on this question again.

I also ponder on the reason why we share happiness and joy at freewill with everyone around us yet brush the sorrow, sadness and hardships under the carpet in a neat pile so no one will see it. They say when pain and sorrow is shared and divided it decreases and becomes bearable. So, why do we not do it more often?

Our life is stressful enough, right? Long working hours, financial worries, family obligations, not to mention an overbooked social calendar - all add up to an extremely busy life, often devoid of proper rest and sleep and full of worry and weariness. We take vacations to get away from it all - on cruises or in resorts in far away places, but often we end up wrapping ourselves in the vacation hectic and stress. Not everyone has the ability to wind down and rarely do we find pure relaxation. I admit I do have trouble winding down.

As I consider the idea of vacationing in a monastery, I discover more and more the benefits that will help me and us as a family to deal with our daily lives on a better scale. It's not just recharging the body, I believe a monastic experience might provide mental and spiritual renewal. It will be an opportunity to fully retire from the demands of the modern world and our busy lives while enjoying the calm order and slower pace of the monastic lifestyle.

And as I discuss this with my friends here I realize I am not the only one who finds this concept gratifying. 

Something simple for such a deep post today, using the lovely produce winter supplies. A kohlrabi turnip gratin - a side that pairs up with almost everything, be it lamb, pork, beef or poultry.


kohlrabi (01) by MeetaK

Kohlrabi can be an intimidating vegetable if you have not been around it much. These sputnik-shaped vegetables taste like fresh, crunchy broccoli stems accented by radish. They come in green, which is more readily available or violet and can be eaten raw or cooked.
The word kohlrabi is derived from the German words for kohl, which means cabbage, and rabi is from rübe, meaning turnip.

Although the kohlrabi bulbs look like they were dug up from the earth in actual fact however, the round bulb is a swollen stem that grows above ground. It is not a commonly used vegetable in American cuisine, but it is widely used in Central Europe and Asia. One can also use the leaves of the kohlrabi much like one would do spinach, chard or other greens.

Selecting, Storing and Preparation
Choose kohlrabi with fresh-looking leaves, bright, even color and no soft spots or cracks. Bulbs the size of a peach or smaller yield best texture and flavor.
My recommendation - go for organic kohlrabi - you'll notice the flavor difference!

Kohlrabi can be refrigerated in loosely sealed plastic bags for several days. If leaves show signs of decline and begin to wilt, discard them before storing.

To prepare kohlrabi trim the stalks and the leaves. If the leaves are not going to be used discard.
My tip - chop leaves and freeze to use in pasta dishes or soups. The fresh leaves can be used much like other greens in salads or lightly blanched.

If you would like to enjoy kohlrabi raw simply peel the root to expose the white inner flesh, then cut as desired. I pack kohlrabi sticks in Soeren's lunch box with a simple herb flavored quark. Slice, dice, or grate kohlrabi and add to salads, use on raw vegetable platters or substitute in recipes calling for radishes.

Kohlrabi is an extremely versatile vegetable and can be cooked in a number of ways.

  • Bake in a covered dish with a few tablespoons of liquid at approx. 170 - 180 degrees C for 50-60 minutes.
  • Boil or steam covered for about 30-35 minutes.
    My tip: peel kohlrabi after they have been cooked.
  • Microwave whole trimmed kohlrabies in covered dish with a few tablespoons of liquid, 6-9 minutes. 
  • Sauté shredded peeled kohlrabi; first sprinkle with salt and let sit 30 minutes, then squeeze water out.

In this gratin I pair kohlrabi with turnip, add a hint of whole seed Dijon mustard and a glug of cream and then bake in the oven until it's bubbling in creamy juices.  

Kohlrabi Turnip Gratin

Printable version of recipe here.


375g kohlrabi, peeled and sliced
375g turnips, peeled and sliced
280 ml crème fraiche
100ml white wine
1 tablespoon whole seed Dijon mustard
handful of bacon bits (optional), fried till crisp
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper



  1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees C.

  2. Place crème fraiche and white wine in a large pan and gently simmer for 2-4 minutes. Season with sea salt and cracked pepper, then add the mustard.

  3. Add the vegetable slices and cook for approx. 5 minutes. If using add some of the bacon and stir to incorporate, leaving some for the top.

  4. Transfer the vegetable mix into a gratin dish and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden and bubbling.



Kohlrabi Turnip Gratin (02) by MeetaK

It’s a basic and simple dish but with a lot of big time flavor. The sharp tangy flavor of the mustard pairs beautifully with the wine and the richness of the cream intermingles throughout rounding it off wonderfully.  

The Monthly Mingle this month is being held over at Sudeshna of Cook Like A Bong and focuses on Winter Vegetables and Fruit. I am so looking forward to this roundup and this Kohlrabi and Turnip Gratin is my entry.

There is still time for you to join the fun party – deadline is January 11th!


You might like these Winter Veggie ideas from WFLH:

Lime Kale with Beans and Dill and Garlic Tomato Rice Roasted Thyme Jerusalem Artichoke, Kohlrabi and Butternut Squash Baked Beetroot with Apple Horseradish Dip


Daily Tiffin Reading Tip:

Quick Indian written by Bina



All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2010 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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  1. A splendid gratin! Really appetizing and different!

    I love your perfect pics!



  2. A retreat somewhere like that is not something would occur to me but now you put it like that I can see the appeal. I used to see Kohlrabi regularly in Sainsburys here but am not sure it's been around lately, I must have a look as I tend to forget about these vegetables in turnip family and this looks very tasty.

  3. Oh Meeta - a vacation in a monastery sounds like pure bliss to me - silence for a whole week, with no interruptions whatsoever? Bring. It. On! A friend of mine went to a Buddhist retreat in the Himalayas for 3 weeks, and came back with so much (calm) energy and vitality, I hardly recognised her. She was completely transformed, and I've been thinking of going ever since.

    As for the food aspect of this post - I absolutely love kohlrabi. My Oma has such an amazing but simple recipe, very similar to yours, that's just pure comfort food.

  4. A week-long respite would be pure bliss. Like yours, my year has been dark and difficult, to put it mildly. I can't get away for a week right now, but I'm taking hourly little respites in my house. Closing my door, luxuriating in silence, letting it filter down to my soul. It's not quite like a week, but it's precious and healing nonetheless. I hope you get your retreat one day. :-)

    I've only ever eaten kohlrabi raw (love it!), but this gratin looks wonderful. :-)

  5. Happy 2010 to you and your family, Meeta. Wish you all the best in life and lot less stressful future too.

    Silence for a week? I guess I won't be able to survive! :D

    2009 was a tough year for me but glad to say I welcome 2010 with a smile and hope in my heart. Life is better always when you smile with your friends and family! What's life without ups and downs, right?

    Gratin looks yum, never tried with Kohlrabi, must try sometimes.

  6. Meeta we have seriously considered going to such a retreat.. only waiting for an opportunity when we can. I have been to Buddhist monastries in Himalayas & Rajagriha a few times before (never lived there), but those few hours are pure bliss.. & I am so ready to live in that silent cocoon for a week or even more.

    Beautiful winter recipe.

  7. Silence for a week. That's sounds a lot like something called "Vipashana" camps near Chicago. One of my friend spent a week there and he was blown away. It is an indescribable experience in his words.

    I don't think I can keep myself quite for that long.

    Thank you for your comments on the blog. It is pleasure to see you there.

  8. Looks scrummy! You're right everyone had a tough year- people I thought I'd never hear it from have come right out and said it themselves. I've got a couple of friends who have gone out to buddhist retreats (one does it yearly for 2 months) and I've been toying the idea. I think it could do nothing but good.

  9. Beautiful dish, first time I've heard of Kohlrabi,though

  10. We have similar retreats here in Australia that last for 10 days...all in silence! Hmmm...not sure I can cope that long without talking. I've recently discovered kohlrabi and love its fresh flavour...the fratin looks comforting and superb Meeta!

  11. Meeta,
    Thanks a lot for this lovely entry. I was waiting to see the turnip preparation on your blog after seeing the tweet.

  12. yum yum yum!! i LOVE turnips, and pairing them with kohlrabi is just pure genius. i'll make this, as soon as i can get to the grocery store! big blizzards here in Michigan. ugh. thanks!

  13. Being in silence for a whole month is bit of a difficult task. For me a week will do. Still will have to think more on this to finally take up.

    Meeta the gratin looks great and perfect for the entry into the Monthly Mingle!!

  14. I honestly wouldn't want to have a retreat in a monestary - for some reason, growing up in an all girls catholic school surrounded by nuns - the thought of sleeping with them scares me! But, your kohlrabi gratin sounds delicious. Meeta - good luck in whatever you decide to do! I hope you manage to find the time to get away from it all for awhile!

  15. I guess that is a very reason why people made trips to holy places. Also if you happen to get a hold of the 'the power of now' by eckhart tolle..its a good book explaining about living and enjoying and spritiualness of the present moment. there are free telecasts on , on book called A new earth !!

    dish looks absolutely delicious and colorful

  16. I have only just begun to eat kohlrabi - and this sounds like a wonderful way to enjoy it! I love turnips too, so I'm definitely making this.

  17. Hi Meeta, I once went to a 10 day Vipassana retreat in Nasik, India. 10 days of silence, waking up at 5 am each day, meditation sessions with breaks for breakfast, lunch, tea(no dinner) and daily rituals, simple but extremely delicious and filling vegetarian food, surrounded by nature, peace and quiet.
    Honestly, I did not mind the silence - but training my mind to focus on the meditation for long hours was the tough part - more so with my restless Gemini mind.
    I needed a retreat from the cacophony and never ending trials and tribulations of daily life, and to that end, the purpose was fulfilled.
    I think it's worth experiencing.
    Wish you and your family a very Happy New Year.
    - PL

  18. The idea of a retreat like that sounds tempting, but knowing myself... I fear I would not be able to enjoy it as I have trouble doing nothing... I guess that is probably all the more reason to do it, but it's a concern!
    Love your kohlrabi dish and I just realized that it is almost the 11th...Not sure if I will make it still for the deadline!

  19. If all healthy foods look good and taste good like this one, I will be accepting the invitation of my sister to be a vegan.

  20. I've never tried Kohlrabi....or a vacation of silence. Well, I have almost had a silent holiday: recently, my husband and I went to London for a weekend, without our 3 under 6-rs. I WAS SHOCKED at just how quiet the rest of the world But I know what you mean.

    Sometimes, I wish I could go away and walk the beaches of Barbados for 7 days, without internet or the need to take photos!!!! LOL

  21. I think we don't share our miseries because it takes a lot of energy to share them and threatens others' happiness as well as our own - that is frowned upon - however I think that talking about ways to relax is a good way to bring up the topic

    never used kohlrabi but I like the idea of your gratin

  22. NICE...Meeta, very very nice. I like the fact that it's big on flavour. Gorgeous pics sistah!!

  23. thank you so much for all your lovely thoughts on this post. i was surprised to see that so many of you have thought about or taken such breaks. it was great hearing about them and your feedback is valuable.


  24. aaarrrgh - it's only January and I'm behind with blog reading already - missed the Monthly Mingle deadline :( Ah well, next month. Kohlrabi is not something we see too often in the UK, which is a great pity - I love it! Besides, what's not to like about vegetables with bacon bits? ;-)

    A friend of mine did a silent Buddhist retreat towards the end of last year and she was hugely positive about it - she said it really made her see things differently and she returned really rejuvenated. I'm not sure I'd go so far as a monastery, for me going to a beach house on my own would be the way forward - long meditative walks on the beach are my favourite way to clear my head :)

  25. At last, a Kohlrabi recipe - i have searched long and hard for any suggestions other than using it in a salad (which is good). No-one really seems to know what to do with these fantastical looking vegetables. Looking forward to trying this one out soon.

  26. Love the description of the taste. I have one of those ufos in the fridge - now I know what to do with them! thanks!


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