A delicious taste of spring! Find out why versatile kohlrabi is dubbed “the jicama of the North” with this slaw and avocado crema recipe.

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I seem to be a magnet for a friendly round of “stump the food writer.” Over the decades, I’ve attended a handful of dinner parties where the host intentionally served me fresh quince or bitter melon with the hopes that I might not be able to figure out what I was eating. I usually walk away with my pride still intact, but a Traverse City friend once got me.

On a summer afternoon during early Covid, our host started an outdoor luncheon with individual crudités platters. Nestled among my colorful assortment of crunchy vegetables were long, white batons—mostly opaque but with a few whispers of translucency. They were sweet and crunchy. “It tastes like jicama,” I said, “but …” Before I could really think about it out loud, he’d already won the round. “It’s kohlrabi,” he said.

Kohlrabi slaw and tacos with slaw.

Photo by Sarah Peschel

Motivated by that moment, I’ve been wanting to create a jicama-inspired recipe for kohlrabi ever since, and I’m not alone. “We call it the jicama of the North,” Loma Farm’s Nic Theisen recently told me of the bulbous brassica with a pale green or purple skin. Kohlrabi overwinters well, and so I especially like it at this time of year when our palates are craving that bright pop of spring crunch, even if it’s still acting like winter outside. This slaw of shaved kohlrabi and cabbage, avocado crema and toasted pepita seeds is great as a standalone side dish, used to top chorizo tacos or served alongside a sunny-side-up egg as part of a breakfast tostada. No matter how you plate it, it’s the perfect way to get a taste of spring.

Kohlrabi Slaw with Avocado Crema Recipe

Makes 12 ½-cup servings

1 just-ripe avocado
½ cup sour cream
½ cup heavy cream
1 lime, halved
½ teaspoon salt, divided
½ cup raw pepitas
1 bunch kohlrabi, trimmed, about 1 pound leafless bulbs
1 small red cabbage, about 1 pound
1 jalapeño, seeds removed and thinly sliced
1 cup cilantro, chopped

Kohlrabi slaw.

Photo by Sarah Peschel

1. Using a spoon, scoop the pulp out of one avocado and place into a food processor, discarding the skin and pit. Add the sour cream and heavy cream and whiz the mixture, pulsing from time to time so as not to whip the cream, until the mixture is smooth throughout. Juice half of the lime, reserving the other half. Add scant Tablespoon lime juice and ¼ teaspoon salt to the crema and allow to sit and sour while you are making the slaw.

2. Warm a dry skillet over medium-high heat and toast the pepitas while shaking the pan, until the seeds are beginning to brown and just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Tacos with kohlrabi slaw.

Photo by Sarah Peschel

3. Juice remaining lime half, pouring the juice into the bottom of a medium-sized bowl. Using a sharp vegetable peeler, peel the outer layer off of the kohlrabi bulbs. Working with a mandolin or patient knife skills, julienne the kohlrabi into small batons that are the size of wooden matchsticks. Add to the bowl with the lime juice and toss to combine.

4. Trim off the base of the red cabbage, and remove the three outer leaves. Cutting perpendicular to the freshly cut base, halve the cabbage. Now working parallel to the cut base, thinly slice the cabbage halves into ribbons, producing about 4 cups of shaved cabbage. Add the cabbage, jalapeño, cilantro, toasted pepitas, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and most of the crema to the kohlrabi, reserving several spoonfuls of crema for garnish.

5. Serve the slaw as a side dish, atop tacos or as the star ingredient in breakfast tostadas—garnishing the final dish with the remaining crema.

Stacey Brugeman is a 20-year food and beverage journalist. Her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Saveur, Travel + Leisure, Eater, Midwest Living and on Instagram @staceybrugeman.

Sarah Peschel, @22speschel, is a stylist and photographer with an appreciation for all things local agriculture, food and drink.

Photo(s) by Sarah Peschel