This is a truly delicious spring pasta dish. Very easy to make, but with a unique flavour combination of the warm and yet fresh taste of the kohlrabi, the rhubarb’s sharp sweetness and the nutty aroma of the spelt and the hazelnuts. Kohlrabi is very common in Germany, however it is most often found in a quite uninspired way – simply added as raw sticks to kid’s lunch boxes. While undoubtedly healthy, it is at this point where many people’s dislike for this beautiful vegetable starts.
I find the freshness of raw kohlrabi is highlighted best, when its finely shredded in a salad together with carrots or in some kind of cabbage slaw with lots of lemon juice and spices. However I love it most, when sautéd or roasted and a slight sweetness emerges. My mum uses to make a very simple, but incredibly comforting dish, by sautéing the kohlrabi dices together with its leaves (they are edible), seasoning it with nothing but salt and pepper and then adding some flour to make a withe roux. So give the odd kohlrabi a try – it’s versatile and enriching!
250g whole grain spelt tagliatelle (use buckwheat or brown rice pasta for a gluten-free version)
1 medium sized kohlrabi
1 tbsp butter (for a vegan version, substitute with coconut oil)
2 tbsp maple syrup or rice malt syrup
1 thyme spring
dash of apple cider vinegar
1 tsp pink peppercorns
sea salt and coarse black pepper to taste
fennel green (optional)
While cooking the pasta, chop the kohlrabi and the rhubarb into similar sized sticks. Scatter the roughly chopped hazelnuts in a frying pan and roast for a few minutes without oil, then set aside. Make sure the pan is not too hot before melting the butter and sautéing the finely diced shallots. Allow them to braise for at least 5 minutes, they will set a nice sweet balance to the sharpness of the rhubarb, but be careful not to burn them. Add the kohlrabi and few minutes later than the rhubarb. Sprinkle with thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with the maple or rice malt syrup and let caramelize on medium to low heat. Finally add about 3 tbsp of the pasta’s cooking water and a dash of apple cider vinegar so that you end up with a sauce. Drain the pasta, transfer to the pan and mix with the vegetables, so that it can soak up the sauce. Sprinkle generously with the pink pepper corns, the hazelnuts and the fennel greens, if using, and serve immediately.