Take a trip to the market, it might turnip a surprise
September 13th, 2011
02:00 PM ET
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Turnips, long a vegetabilis non-grata in my kitchen. Their positive attributes - juicy interior, good nutritional value and attractive appearance - never made up for their bitterness and I'm a bitter gal. Aperol, Campari, dark chocolate, citrus peel, love them all - except the turnip.

Yet last Monday, after a hectic day at work, I found myself at my dining room table swooning over a plate of turnips, ones I had prepared no less. And I never would have gotten there if I didn't shop with local farmers.

Full disclosure, I work at a local farmers market once a week, so clearly I think they are great.  Shopping there allows me access to fruits, vegetables, cheeses and meats that I would ignore and overlook otherwise. Arugula? Bring it on! Dandelion greens? Bring them on too - though I'm not quite sure what to do with them ... yet.

Last Saturday as I made my rounds of the market, sweating and cursing late summer days in Georgia, Cory Mosser of Burge Organic Farm started talking turnips. He sold a bunch to the customer before me by suggesting putting them in the broiler with some olive oil, sea salt and balsamic.

Nice try, dude. Been there, done that and remain unconverted. I had eyes only for the lovely red onions at his stand, but Mosser had plans for his last bunch of turnips. Sensing his sales tactic, I cut him off. "I've tried them with the salt and olive oil, I just don't like them." Undeterred, Mosser tried a new tact.

"But have you tried them the French way?"

I paused, and sensing an opportunity he gestured at the lovely little bunch of white orbs and continued. "It's really simple: butter, white wine, salt and a little sugar and let it all cook down."

I'm sure you already know how this ends - I bought them, cooked them, loved them and will buy some more at the market this weekend.

So my turnip lesson is this: if you are lucky enough to have a local farmers market, go! You'll be surprised at what you find and you'll have easy conversations with folks who know good food. And also, try turnips the French way and delight in the crispy caramelized exterior and the juicy bitter interior.

What's your stance on turnips? Got a favorite way to eat 'em? Plant your thoughts in the comments below.

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Filed under: Bite • Farmstands • Local Food • Vegetables

soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. MB

    I use my fiance's family recipe of cubing up one large (orange) turnip and boiling it in a pot of water with some salt and about 2 inches or so of fresh ginger, minced. Once the turnip is soft, drain carefully so as not to lose the ginger bits and then mash with butter like you would potatoes. I HATED turnip until I ate it this way. Amazing.

    September 16, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  2. abbyful

    I love turnips. I've quit using potatoes in my pot roast, I now make it with carrots, turnips, and parsnips; much more flavor!

    September 15, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  3. Lynds

    I love white turnips!! Red ones are good in moderation on salads. Ive never tried cooked ones but they sound good :) I love most all veggies and fruits, but I prefer them raw whenever possible. Of course thats the best way to eat them, if you dont mind your fruits and veggies that way :) Thanks for the turnip tips!!

    September 15, 2011 at 6:04 am |
  4. alimonyjones

    Put rutabagas in the same sentence with butter and bacon and I'm in!

    September 14, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  5. TR

    Rutabagas are great roasted in a little olive oil and then smashed with some butter and crispy bacon...yum

    September 14, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  6. alimonyjones

    Roast them in wedges at 500 degrees until soft. They literally become as sweet as candy. Simmer the greens with blackeyed peas for a treat. Love the turnip. Now, can you tell me what to do with rutabagas?

    September 14, 2011 at 9:10 am |
    • Jerv

      Thanks! I'm gonna try that.

      September 14, 2011 at 9:15 am |
  7. Tiger Lily

    Some people, especially people who grew up with turnips in the garden, eat them raw, like apples, with or without salt. My father, the farm boy turned city slicker, showed me that. I still e them best that way!

    September 13, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
  8. Debra

    It's a unique flavor. Mom used to mash and add to mashed potatoes, so they wouldn't taste as strong. Rutabagas are much like them. It is a Finnish tradition to have mashed rutabagas for a New Years meal for good luck! Yum!

    September 13, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
  9. Charlotte

    peel, boil like potatoes and mash. Blend w/ mashed potato. Yummy.

    September 13, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  10. Charlotte

    LOVE turnips! Delicious, easy to cook, healthy, they add a real peppery zing to a lot of dishes! Easy to grow, too :)

    September 13, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
  11. fob

    I'll have to keep that in mind. A few weeks back I posted that I had picked a turnip from my parent's garden but had no idea what to do with it. Now I know! Thanks!

    September 13, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  12. Lila

    Yummm. Think I might give the French way a try. Thanks, Emma!

    September 13, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
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