Carpaccio Goes Vegan, Swapping Beef for Root Vegetables

Slices of kohlrabi, radish, and turnip are the humble stars of this simple winter salad.

(Photo: Ian Knauer)

Mar 9, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Ian Knauer is a regular contributor to TakePart. He has worked for Gourmet and is the author of the IACP Award–nominated cookbook The Farm.

Why meatless on Mondays? Not only is eating less animal protein a healthy diet choice, but curbing your meat consumption can have a significant environmental impact too. In 2006, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported that animal agriculture accounted for a full 19 percent of greenhouse gases—more than the transportation sector. Best of all, with recipes like these, going meatless can be a delicious weekly habit.

I am constantly trying to come up with fresh ideas and ways to gussy up regular old vegetables. This time of year it feels a lot harder than other times. In the summer, the garden offers such a bounty that the options seem limitless. A tomato is great on its own, but I could rattle off a dozen fancy tomato dishes off the top of my head. Try adding a little cream to tomatoes and blending them into a refined soup, or stacking tomato slices with fresh basil and drizzling with a good-quality olive oil, or tossing chopped tomato and a little jalapeño with some bay scallops for a nice take on ceviche—I could go on and on.

Now, try that with a kohlrabi. Not so easy. But that’s what I’ve got to work with this time of year: kohlrabi and a few other roots and shoots.

Years ago, I was working in the test kitchen of a cooking magazine in New York. It was a hyper-creative place to work. My colleagues were passionate about food, and we would brainstorm about ways to make the dishes we developed better and better. One dish that came out of this collective creative process was a carpaccio made of roasted beets instead of the traditional raw beef. It was an upscale, vegetarian take on a dish that was refined in the first place. Just the sort of inspiration we need this time of year, when we’re dealing with stuff like kohlrabi.

Kohlrabi, Turnip, and Radish Carpaccio

Serves 4 (first course)


1 large green kohlrabi, peeled
1 medium Japanese turnip, peeled
1 medium watermelon radish, peeled
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns
Kosher salt


Using a slicer, cut the kohlrabi, turnip, and radish into paper-thin slices. Lay the slices on a serving platter. Scatter the cilantro leaves over the slices, then drizzle with the lemon juice and the oil. Sprinkle the peppercorns and a large pinch of salt over the dish and serve.