Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Turnips: A Meditation

Turnips: A Definition

"The usually white globular 'root' (the swollen hypocotyl) of a yellow- flowered cruciferous plant, Brassica rapa, long cultivated as a vegetable and as cattle- feed." (Middle 16th century).

-- Oxford English Dictionary

Turnips: Random Thoughts

Easily overlooked among more distinguished vegetables and fruits, turnips occupy a small corner of the culinary world and the produce bin; sometimes hairy, bumpy, irregularly shaped, perhaps a bit dirty and colorless, they don't cry out for attention. However, a turnip will never let you down!

Stored in the fridge in a loosely closed plastic bag, a turnip will be there when you need it, unspoiled and filled with quiet potential. Add it to soups or stews, roast in the oven with a few other vegetables and a sprinkling of olive oil, sea salt and herbs. Or make a quick fresh salad of raw julienned turnip and carrot tossed in a simple herb dressing.

Select turnips which are smooth, free of bruises or fissures, and which feel heavy for their size. If greens are attached, do not discard; they are a nutritious and spicy treat. Cut greens from bulb with a knife, wash well and steam briefly.

Several varieties of small "baby" turnips can be found in produce markets, like the "Golden Globes" in the photo above. They are milder in flavor, more tender and faster cooking than larger specimens (best left for cattle- feed) and are ideal for any recipe. These are the best ones to keep on hand, waiting for that special turnip moment to arise.

Recipe to follow!