They're the ones I overlook each week at the farmers market because I don't know what to do with them (outside of souls). But Alice Waters says they may be he most underrated vegetable, so d love to know your favorite preparations.
I recently made a recipe for butter-braised turnips with mojo picon that was delicious. 2 lbs turnips peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (baby turnips can just be cut in half). Heat a 12-inch sauté pan (not non-stick) over high heat. Once hot add a stick of room-temperature butter to the pan. Add the turnips, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring infrequently until done, about 7 minutes -- they should have some brown edges and be cooked through but not mushy. The butter will steam/smoke and brown as soon as it hits the pan. Just get the turnips in quickly, and it will work out. The mojo picon is a chile, olive oil, herb, and vinegar combo, so I'm pretty sure any sauce with some fat and tang would complement the sweet but slightly bitter nature of the turnips.
They're also good mashed with potatoes, or parsnips (another very overlooked vegetable, sadly) or carrots, or a combination of a couple of those. Sort of old fashioned and homey (my mother did them simply, just with butter, milk/cream, s&p) but I'm sure there are more modern gussied up versions out there too.
I've made them mostly as amysarah mentions, usually matchsticks with parsnips and/or carrots. My grandmother and mother made an obligatory dish of mashed turnips for all holiday meals as a traditional Irish thing.
The turnip greens are also wonderful especially if you have nice greenmarket turnips. Great stirred into mashed potatoes or in soups or vegetable stir-fry, etc. For adding to mashed potatoes, I take the trouble to blanch the greens:
Separate the stems and the leaves. Rinse. Add stems to boiling water for about 1 minute. Add the leaves and wait 1 more minute. Drain and plunge into ice bath. Drain, pat dry and chop into bite-sized pieces. Stir into your favorite mashed potatoes.
I know it sounds like a lot of work for turnip greens but if they're fresh and young, it's worth it. In case you don't know it already - this works for any vegetables - the trick with an ice bath is to keep the greens in the strainer you used to drain them out of boiling water. (Your ice water bath needs to be in a large enough bowl or pot to contain that strainer.) Then dunk that strainer into the ice bath. You'll have to push down so the strainer doesn't float, but don't let the ice flow over the edges into the strainer. Otherwise you'll spend an hour picking ice cubes out. At that point, even laundry would seem more inviting.
p.s. The basket inside salad spinners makes an excellent strainer for this purpose. You just need something bigger it will fit into. The outer bowl of the salad spinner will not work because there's not enough room for ice cubes.
I make a root gratin made up of primarily turnips and parsnips. Just grate them through a food processor and then salt them. Allow them to sit for 30 minutes and then squeeze out all the leeched liquid. Fry them in butter, then place in a buttered casserole dish pour cream or half and half to top of roots. Add some pepper on top, and either breadcrumbs or crushed Ritz cracker crumbs, dot with butter and put in oven at 375 for 45 minutes.
I cube the into a 1/2 inch dice and do the same with equal amounts of potatoes and sauté them. The key is to make sure they are soft all the way throughout. If they aren't soft they can be very bitter but once mellowed they are divine.
There are three types of roots that folks call "turnips." Which ones do you mean? I love the small white ones known correctly as Hakurei turnips. They are so sweet you can eat them raw. I like to saute them until browned and crisp, then add their julienned greens and a bit of apple cider vinegar and steam them until wilted. A nice variety for a side, and sprinkled with grated cheese, makes a light supper. The larger white turnips with the purple tops are more common. I only like those when they're young, as their taste can get rather strong when they get old. The yellow roots some people call turnips are really rutabagas (known in UK and Canada as "Swede," though I have no idea why). They are the only vegetable I don't like and won't eat.
I mostly mash them with potatoes and butter and milk and salt & pepper like my grandmother did. I really love all the methods posted up above, especially the butter braising I am definitely going to be trying that this season. Thanks for the good ideas!
Prompted by this thread, I just asked my mother if she was bringing mashed turnips for Thanksgiving dinner. She paused and then asked me if I was an idiot. We started talking about turnips and she reminded me of the saying, "Did you fall off the back of a turnip truck?" Similar to saying "Were you born in a barn?" I'm guessing that in Ireland, where turnips (and potatoes and beets) were big crops, if your job was harvesting them, you were low-wage labor without the slightest social standing in your town. (Although I've never hear the slur, "Did you fall off the back of a potato truck?") But I'm thinking that honoring turnip greens makes up for all of that.
Turnips have a bad reputation in Europe and many farming communities in the U.S. because for centuries they were used to feed animals, and people just didn't eat them.
My favorite way? Peeled, cut into chunks (quarters of nice small ones), tossed in olive oil, thrown on a hot baking sheet in a hot oven with some radishes (halved, also tossed in oil ), with a good pinch of salt sprinkled over everything, and maybe a few sprigs of fresh thyme buried underneath them. Roast until crispy on the edges and soft inside. Serve right away, remembering, if you can, to save some for the others joining you for dinner. ;o)
Antonia - Thank you for that farming perspective. It makes me wonder why turnips were consigned as "hog food" vs. other root vegetables. Something to look into after hectic Thanksgiving/Hannukah. Maybe they were just cheaper to grow. Your combination of turnips and radishes is very interesting - and colorful! I plan to try that.
Last year my CSA box was overflowing with turnips and celery. I didn't realize how little celery I consumed until I had an entire bunch to manage every week! I found a lovely recipe in Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone that dressed thinly sliced celery and shredded young turnips in a mustardy vinaigrette -- a great complement to two pretty assertive tastes. For more mature roots, I like everything others else have offered up -- mash, roast, etc. Jamie Oliver also made a healthy winter slaw with all those great fall/winter vegetables -- turnips, carrots, fennel, celeriac, cabbage, radishes and lots of herbs with a yogurt dressing. A pinch of sugar helps tame any bitterness.
I make turnips with greens. It's soul food. Boil greens and turnips until turnips are quite soft. You need a little vinegar in the water, just a dash, salt, pepper, maybe a pinch of sugar, and some slices of fatty bacon. Serve them with corn bread for the pot likker :-)
I'm with June on the hakurei turnips. They are by far and away the most delicious variety I have tried and are very easy to grow. I grew row after row of them through spring and fall this year in Chicago. They are fast maturing so I often had them on hand. They have a mild, sweet, crisp flavor that is delicious raw sliced thinly in salads or cooked lightly.
My favorite way to prepare them is this simple Bon Appetit recipe for Glazed Hakurei Turnips:-
(Though I omit the sugar as I find their natural sweetness is perfect as is).
When I don't have an hakurei turnips ready to harvest I pick up a bunch from my local farmers market.
One of my favorite vegetables when simply roasted! I peel them, coat them with olive oil, and sprinkle the cubed turnips with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. I add various other vegetables (carrots, parsnips, sweet potato) and sometimes apples. Roast at 425 degrees for 25-35 minutes.
Here is a great slaw with turnips, http://food52.com/recipes...
I roasted the small white guys and couldn't believe I'd overlooked them for this long. They were delicious--reminded me slightly of roaste Jerusalem artichokes. Already on my mental market list for this weekend. Thanks all