Kohlrabi, Radish, and Golden Beet Slaw with Pickling Spices

DSC_0789aThe second installment in the “how to use my CSA box vegetables” series is one of my favorite salads. I like to say that it’s a ‘cheat’: it’s a fresh vegetable slaw made with a tart dressing and pickling spices, and the result is that it tricks your brain (or at least my brain) into thinking “pickle.” It is crisp and light and bracingly flavorful. It’s a wonderful summer slaw, and a good alternative to traditional creamy cole slaws. 

Since I published my last post on this topic, I’ve had a few people ask me what a CSA is. CSA stands for “community supported agriculture.” The idea is that community members support local agriculture by paying a lump sum – a subscription fee, essentially – at the start of the growing season. It helps farmers and growers by providing needed funds at a lean time of the year and a guaranteed market. Subscribers reap the bounty by getting fresh produce directly from the farmer throughout the growing season (meat too, even, if you join a CSA through a livestock farmer). I actually joined a CSA last week, and so am confronted with real, not hypothetical, spring vegetables I need to use up every week before the next box is upon me. In early summer, this basically means LOTS and LOTS of spring greens. Yes, salads and slaws are an obvious solution to the problem, but this one really is delicious. My friend Suzie, who ate this slaw at my house last week (I made that one with fennel and beetroot) has prepared it twice since. A resounding endorsement, folks.

The dressing – a simple lemon-olive oil dressing seasoned with a generous amount of toasted whole spices – is extremely versatile. I’ve used it on finely chopped red cabbage, on shaved fennel, celeriac, and curly endive, and today, for the first time, on kohlrabi, golden beets, and spicy new spring radishes. Similarly, you can make a passable version of the dressing by swapping out some of the spices. Sometimes I add whole cumin seeds, for example (they’re particularly nice with cabbage), and sometimes I omit the fennel. Both of these are strong flavors to be used judiciously. My constants are mustard seeds, nigella seeds, and caraway seeds. For this salad, a mandoline is key, albeit not 100% essential. Sharp knives and very good knife skills will work too.DSC_0779a


1-2 kohlrabi

1-2 golden beetroots

4-8 radishes (depending on their size and spiciness). A variety of colors would be nice.

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons lemon juice

1.5 teaspoons salt

.5 teaspoons pepper

¼ teaspoon nigella seeds

¼ teaspoon fennel seeds

¼ teaspoon celery seeds

¼ teaspoon caraway seeds

¼ teaspoon mustard seeds

Optional: coarsely chopped fresh light herbs such as dill, tarragon, fennel fronds, or coriander. DSC_0780a


In a small bowl combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and set aside.

Toast the spices in a dry pan over high heat, shaking frequently, until the spices have begun to color and release an odor and the mustard seeds have begun to pop. Combine with the other dressing ingredients.

Trim and peel the beetroot and kohlrabi, setting the leaves aside for another use (both are edible). Grate into a large bowl using a box grater or the grater attachment on a food processor. (The kohlrabi is also lovely julienned – sliced into thin matchsticks.) Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, thinly slice the radishes into the same bowl. DSC_0782a

Toss with dressing and (optional) coarsely chopped fresh herbs. Serve immediately. Makes 4-6 servings.

18 thoughts on “Kohlrabi, Radish, and Golden Beet Slaw with Pickling Spices

  1. We have NO trouble getting through our CSA box, but this sounds delicious! I like the dressing ingredients. I will try it. I love slaws and I love anything with black mustard and celery seed.

  2. This is a great post. The slaw sounds wonderful, and the photographs are just stunning. It’s good to learn more about the CSA scheme as well. Thanks.

  3. My mother asked this weekend: “What are you talking about? A CSA?” I had to laugh, because she participates in one! But she knew it only as a “farm share.” Can’t wait to try your slaw. Our radishes are gone for now, but there are plenty of salad turnips! I have been throwing them in cabbage slaws, but I haven’t yet used all those spices. Which sound like a delicious addition.

  4. talking about CSA’s, which I know close to nothing, you think that would be a good idea for a couple with no kids? sounds like you could be signing up for a lot of produce, right? great post btw

    • I am sharing my CSA box with a neighbor for precisely that reason! But I love it. And I love the challenge it presents of having to be creative with the ingredients I receive.

      • AH!!! that’s an idea, if only I knew my neighbors well enough :/ I have a job which requires me to be away from home 11 hours a day, I rarely see anyone in my building, but it makes sense that that’s what you’d do to take care of any surplus issues 🙂

  5. As I think you already know (if not, please forgive the presumption), I have been helping to coordinate the Manhattan pick-up for the farm that does my meat CSA. Our shares are frozen, otherwise I don’t think that I could handle it on my own.

    I am always envious of those who can find someone else to share a vegetable CSA! The produce always is so much better and I do love how it forces you to get creative. Like an episide of Chopped.

    • Yes! Although I have to admit that quite a lot the time — especially when I’m eating alone — I just end up sauteing my greens. Sometimes with a fried egg on top.

      How cool that you’re coordinating the CSA pick-up! I hadn’t realized you were in so deep. 😉

  6. Kohlrabi is such a beautiful vegetable! I can’t get over the color.. but I am actually not too find of the tease. I wish I liked it more, but the radish looks so yummy.

  7. I love the idea of a CSA, think we could do with one in the UK too eh, would definitely help a lot of small producers and farmers out. Lovely recipe as always, colours are simply gorgeous together, and so fresh! Nice to see you aren’t settling for anything less in your american kitchen too! Saw on instagram homemade bread too! Good on you!

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