I find myself surprised to be raving about turnips but rave I am going to!
Those baby turnips we have been getting from Gordon Caldwell are so good. I have never tasted such sweet, succulent turnips. I have seen some comments on the Facebook group that some of our subscribers don’t like turnips and are not sure what to do with them. I have to agree, until recently I would have added them to my opt-out list and never eaten them. However, these are not to be missed. I am a convert.
We have turnips in all boxes this week so I thought I would share a few ideas about how to prepare them & I will finish up with a recipe for a Japanese pickle in which you can use almost any veg but they’re especially good with these baby turnips.
Nobody puts baby turnips in a corner!
Quick word about Turnip greens
Before you start thinking about the bulb or root don’t forget about the leaves. When small and crispy they are perfect in a salad with a subtle dressing – even just some olive oil to bring out their natural pepperiness. When they are a bit larger you can treat them more like kale. They will respond well in butter over a medium heat with a pinch of salt, a crack of pepper and a few drops of lemon juice. They are also great wilted into a noodle soup or chopped finely into a soup or stew near the end of cooking
Raw Baby Turnips
There is really no need to cook turnips when they’re this young & fresh. To add to a salad just give them a good wash, chop, dress & eat (no need to peel). The firm texture alongside some juicy lettuce is the epitome of refreshing summer food. They’re also a good addition to a slaw or remoulade.
Baby turnips also make great crudite. They would be really great with a creamy dressing such as Nigella’s anchovy elixir or a whipped goats cheese.
Cooking baby turnips
I have tried a few methods of cooking these turnips and they were all good. I prefer them to still have a little bite so now only cook them for a few minutes. It brings out different flavours so they become nuttier and creamier.
Last week I roasted a few with a little oil, garlic and fresh sage. They were in a hot oven, wrapped in a foil parcel for about 20 minutes. For me they were a little overcooked but they still tasted great and took on the flavour from the herb really well. Good way to have them alongside a steak or a mushroom tart.
I added them to a Chinese stir fry. For this I used the larger ones and cut them into matchstick sizes. They were only in the pan for 3-4 minutes to take on some heat so still crunchy and perfect with pak choi and noodles.
My last turnip experiment was on the grill. They ended up all blackened and soft and were really delicious, although let’s face it anything cooked like this is wonderful! We dunked them in some wasabi cream.
The best thing I have made with these turnips is Fukujin Pickles. These are salty and sweet and we eat them with Yakitori chicken. If there are ever any leftover they don’t last long as they are good with pretty much anything. They keep in the fridge for ages. This recipe has items you will find in the veg boxes this week but you can also add cucumber, aubergine, daikon, mushrooms, chard stems or beetroot.
Fukujin Pickles Recipe
Ingredients (makes s small jar):
5-6 baby turnips
2 small carrots
2 small baby onions
50ml soy sauce
10ml rice vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame seeds
Wash and chop all the veg. They should be cut into lengths or slices about 3mm thick. It doesn’t matter too much as long as the thickness is the same so they cook at the same time
Salt the veg with a good teaspoon of salt and mix them to coat. Leave them for about half an hour to wilt.
Wash the veg under running water and squeeze a little to get excess water off.
Add the soy, sake, mirin, rice vinegar, sugar and sesame seeds to a small saucepan and start to warm over a medium heat. Bring to the boil
Add the veg and boil until the liquid forms a tick glaze over the veg but they still have bite – about 4-5 minutes.
Cool before serving. Can be kept in a sterilized jar in the fridge for a few weeks.