If you’re like me, sometimes you get stuck in a “food rut” and skip right over vegetables that are less-familiar. Farmer’s markets are a great way to challenge yourself to try something new. If its a little white bulb topped in reddish-purple skin you’ve come home with, you’re in for a treat: let’s talk about how to use turnips!
You may start to see turnips harvested in June and July, then again in the fall here in Wisconsin; though, they keep nicely and are often available at grocery stores and food co-ops through the winter.
Since they grow underground, they absorb nutrients from the soil and are high in minerals like manganese, potassium, iron, calcium and copper. They are also loaded with fiber and a whole alphabet-full of different vitamins (K, A, C, E, and B-vitamins).
How to Select:
Find turnips that are firm and free of bruises and cuts; look for ones that are white with a little purple at the stem-end. If the greens are attached, they should be bright and firm. Smaller turnips tend to be sweeter and more tender.
How to Store:
Store turnips and their greens separately. If you have a cellar (lucky you!), you can keep turnips (greens removed) in that cool, dark, dry space for months on end. Otherwise, keep them in the crisper of the refrigerator in a vegetable storage or loosely closed plastic bag.
How to Prepare:
The greens of turnips can be sautéed just like other hearty greens. The typically-thin skin of the turnip can be peeled with a vegetable peeler or paring knife. Remove any fibrous parts right under the skin, too. Raw turnips add crunch to salads and can be pickled. They aren’t as starchy and have a mildly spicy flavor, but otherwise can be used like potatoes—cubed and roasted and mashed or added to soups and stews. They also work well in purees and to create creamy soups. When you’re heating up the grill for chicken, burgers, or steaks—consider adding a side of turnips (drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper)! Turnips take on a fantastic amount of smoke flavor when grilled.
Recipe: Roasted Turnips
Let’s keep it simple today and talk about how to bring out the sweetness of turnips by roasting them. To roast turnips, do the following:
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Peel and cut the turnips into 3/4-inch cubes.
- Drizzle them with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast on a parchment-lined baking sheet until they are browned and tender (20-30 minutes).
For a little variety and a little more flavor, add other root vegetables you have on hand; this method of roasting also works with carrots, beets, parsnips, sweet potatoes, onions and garlic.
Mark Bittman’s book How to Grill Everything is a great read for this time of year—and has directions for grilling turnips to perfection. The book is available at the Hudson Area Public Library.
What about you?
Though I cook quite a bit, I found root vegetables like turnips a bit intimidating at first—how about you? What are your favorite ways to use these roots?
Want to see more local, fresh produce in your fridge? Consider becoming an owner of the Hudson Grocery Cooperative—which will be a locally-owned, full-service grocery store that offers diverse food and product choices including organic, sustainable and regionally sourced options for our community.
Image and recipe credit: Welcome to the Table