I tasted small snips of large local turnips at my local Farmers Market over the weekend. They were purpleish and white in color and they still had the green tops attached. The natural spiciness and crunch took me by surprise and seriously had me turnip the creative volume in my mind.
I had expect a vegetarian friend visiting me from out of town and wanted to prepare a locally grown and seasonal vegetable. I knew she'd appreciate it. I knew those turnips were perfect for the occasion. To make the meal more substantial I planned to prepare them with a grain or some sort of seed for a delicious meal.
I still remember when I was a child our mother had prepared white turnips finely chopped and over buttered crusty rye bread. It was sprinkled with sea salt and a healthy dose of black pepper to enhance that natural spiciness.
I had cooked turnips before and, to be totally honest, they didn’t blow me away. But this time around I was more than a happy camper with the result—here’s how I did it.
The average sized turnip has a diameter of about 3 inches, so I decided to peel the turnips and slice them into mouth-sized wedges. The turnips were simply seasoned with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil, then tossed in a bowl. I made sure that they were evenly distributed over my cookie sheet pan before they went into the 450-degree Fahrenheit hot oven.
It took 35 minutes to get them to the point where they had brown-charred edges and tender to the bite. They tasted savory and sweet—if there was vegetable candy, then there it is.
That night I served the roasted turnips on a bed of slowly simmered French lentils prepared and cooked with tiny cubes of celery, onions, garlic and the turnip greens. The dish had simple ingredients but was a revelation for our taste buds. It still strikes me how good vegetables when they were harvested within the past 24 hours or so.
….more turnip serving suggestions:
The roasted preparation above works for cold and warm applications in a seasonal salad. The next time I'll prepare it with chopped kale, or a bitter green like dandelions or escarole. The seasoning can be kept fairly basic—I recommend EVOO, salt, pepper from the mill and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Also, you can serve turnips as a side dish next to roasted fish such as striped bass or grilled salmon, and last but not least along a satisfying grilled steak or a beef stew.