Kohlrabi are called cavoli in Sicily and in Italian it is cavolo rapa.
In Italian cavoli are cauliflowers, cavolo verza is a cabbage.
Just to confuse things even further, Sicilians call cauliflowers broccoli.
As well as the purple coloured Kohlrabi roots there are light green ones; the root is always sold complete with the leaves and the whole plant is eaten.
Kohlrabi in Ragusa is either eaten boiled as a vegetable side dish with a dressing of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice, but the preferred way is to cook it with pasta, as a wet pasta dish.
The kohlrabi I am able to buy at the Queen Victoria Market are always much bigger than the ones in the photos (from market in Syracuse) but because the plant is picked when large, the leaves are not as tender.
I could never say that the version I make is as tasty as the one my relatives in Ragusa make. For a start, they make it with home made pasta (called causunedda) and they also put in strips of cutini (cotenne in Italian, pork skin in English) to flavour the broth.
The cutini (from fresh pork) are common in Sicilian cooking especially in Ragusa. They are eaten stuffed, rolled and braised as a secondo (main course), but mainly added to soups (especially pulses) and nearly always as an ingredient to make a strong sugo to dress pasta or the ravioli di ricotta (a local specialty from the south eastern part of Sicily).
Because I do not make my own causunnedda, I buy gnocchetti shaped pasta or pasta or casareccia.
Kohlrabi is an autumn – winter vegetable and it is amazing how something so simple can taste so good.
Clean the greens and separate them into manageable pieces; peel the kohlrabi root and cut into bite sized pieces.
Boil them in salted water (add strips of fresh pork rind if you wish). The water will be used as the broth to cook the pasta so calculate the amount of liquid carefully. When the vegetables are soft, drain them, but save the water and the rind. Cook the pasta in the water. Return the vegetable to the water and the pasta. Add chopped chilli or chilli flakes. Now for one of the most important parts: dribble with your finest extra virgin olive oil and serve. It should resemble a wet pasta.
Grated pecorino is placed on the table as an option.
The Ragusani also cook the causunnedda with dried borlotti beans in winter and with fresh borlotti beans when in season.I n spring fresh broad beans are used.
In the photo below is Franca, my cousin in Ragusa. preparing the causunnedda with Kohlrabi.