May 22, 2008
Learning to Love Turnips
The fun part about eating seasonally is getting to try new things. There has been a lot of that so far this spring, what with the ramps and spring garlic. When I was at Union Square last week on one of my semi-regular lunchtime farmers market trips, I came upon turnip greens, and realized they would be the perfect side to the bison flank steak I had marinating in the fridge for dinner. At this time of year, the turnip greens are attached to little turnips freshly plucked from the ground, so you can eat the whole plant.
my how dirty you are
I feel like Alice Waters, cooing over baby vegetables emerging from the earth, such as turnips and radishes, that can be sliced and eaten raw in salads or dipped in mayonnaise or butter and popped whole into one's mouth. I added some baby turnips to a variation on my Greek salad last week and they served me just fine.
before: raw potatoes and turnips
However, I've never been a fan of roasted or mashed turnips, which always seem to more sour and bitter than their raw counterparts. But give that I'd only ever roasted old turnips that had been stored winter-long, I thought I would give these baby turnips the benefit of the doubt and hope that they would come out sweeter. They didn't.
after: rosemary roasted potatoes and turnips
But luckily, I also roasted potatoes alongside the turnips to round things out. I scattered olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried rosemary from my container garden over the veggies, and roasted them until they browned on the bottom. Mmm. I managed to eat all of my turnips, with the help of mouthfuls of roasted potatoes.
before: just-washed turnip greens
As for the turnip greens, I wasn't sure how to cook them. I ended up steaming them and then sauteeing similar to my typical kale preparation, which seemed appropriate because its shape, broad leaves intersected by thick stems, reminded me of kale. However, unlike kale, these greens actually do wilt down - from what seemed to be an overwhelming bunch of greens that I feared we would be eating for days, down to two manageable side portions. And those two portions were delicious, healthy, and restorative - a deep green, a little sweet and not so bitter, warmed up with lemon and mustard. Apparently turnip greens are so full of vitamins that they are on the list of the world's healthiest foods. Paired with garlic, also on the list of world's healthiest foods, extra virgin cold pressed olive oil, lean and iron-rich bison steak, and roasted potatoesand turnips, this was one healthy meal indeed. Nothing like devouring a terrific meal and feeling good about myself while I do it.
after: sauteed turnip greens and spring garlic
Sauteed Turnip Greens and Spring Garlic
1 bunch turnip greens
extra virgin olive oil
2 stalks spring garlic
1 tbsp mustard
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp water
crushed red pepper
Chop baby turnip roots off turnip greens and reserve the turnips for another use. Rinse greens thoroughly. Trim off the stems, and chop rough pieces.
Steam over simmering water for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the turnip greens are mostly wilted.
Meanwhile, mince spring garlic and sautee the garlic in olive oil over medium low heat until softened and slightly browed. Add turnip greens and continue to sautee, turning the heat down to low. Whisk together mustard, lemon juice, water, and spices in a bowl, and then add to the pan, stirring to combine. Cook another few minutes, until greens are completely wilted.