I honestly cannot remember the last time I cooked turnips or even if I have ever cooked them. I’m an official turnip-hater, likely because of a childhood memory of a lump of mashed yellow mush on my plate that had to be suffered through if I was to entertain any thought of getting dessert.
All that changed today. At the S.O.L. Farm stand at the Farmer’s Market today I spotted something I’d never seen before: Hakaurei turnips. They are small, round white turnips with leaves that look similar to giant dandelion greens. I learned that these were developed in Japan in the ’50’s when there were food shortages after World War II. They have a delicate, sweet flavour and are crisp and tender. The leaves are edible too and are a source of Vitamin A and probably a host of other nutrients as well.
I found a Bon Appetit recipe that I adapted and I served these alongside barbecued wild sockeye salmon and fresh asparagus tonight.
2 bunches (about 8-10) hakurei turnips, tops removed (reserve) and stems and roots trimmed
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. sugar
pinch of sea salt (Try Vancouver Island Salt Co., also available at the Saturday market.)
Place turnips in a skillet. Add water to cover turnips halfway. Add butter, sugar, and a large pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is syrupy and turnips are tender, about 15 minutes. If turnips are tender before the liquid has reduced, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a plate and reduce liquid until syrupy. Return turnips to pan and toss to coat well.
Remove from skillet and keep warm.
Turnip greens, trimmed to remove any tough stems
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin olive oil
Heat oil in skillet and saute garlic. Add turnip greens and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until just wilted. Toss to coat with the garlic oil mixture. Serve as a bed for the turnips.
Try them. Even if you’ve always shunned turnips, I’d be willing to bet you’ll like these.
I suspect these would also be good raw, thinly sliced or julienned into a vegetable slaw. Note to self: buy more at next Saturday’s market.
Have you tried them before? How do you serve them?