Okay, I admit it, I’m a turnip lover. Give me either greens or roots and I’m happy. What southern girl wouldn’t be? Growing up in the Deep South, you learn to eat turnips any way you are served them.
Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of people talk about getting turnips through a Community Supported Agriculture program. In fact, some of the recipients didn’t know what the turnips were because they had not purchased or eaten them prior to receiving them via a box of vegetables. They had to ask someone else what they were getting.
I’m pretty sure there are not a lot of turnip root recipes around today. It’s not common to see them anyway. So, I’ll tell you how I prepare the roots.
The first way is just like mashed potatoes. I peel them, boil them in salted water until they are tender, and then drain them well. Draining keeps them from being watery. I mash them and add butter, more salt if needed and pepper. The other way I cook them is to peel them, cube or “chunk” them and add them to the greens that are cooking with a little ham. They’re delicious no matter how you cook them. Do remember that you can use them just like a potato but the taste will be different.
Another way to cook turnips is to make a dish of “Potatoes Anna” but use thinly sliced turnips instead. Margaret Johnson’s, The New Irish Table, has a very nice recipe for “Turnips Anna Livia” and I hope that she won’t mind if I use it here because I’ve used her book for my own personal cooking and everything I’ve made has been delicious.
Enjoy your “new” old vegetable. Maybe after the turnips, you’ll try rutabagas, and you can cook them the same way that you cook turnips. Oh, and are they sweet and good.
Turnips Anna Livia
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup grated Dubliner or white cheddar cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon minced fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
¼ teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 ¾ pounds to 2 pounds white turnips, peeled and thinly sliced
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
¼ cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch (I would not use glass at this high heat) pie pan or skillet with some of the melted butter. In a small bowl, combine the flour, cheese, salt and pepper, the ¼ teaspoon thyme, the rosemary, and nutmeg. Arrange in a single layer of the largest turnip slices in a concentric circle in the bottom and up the sides of the plate. Sprinkle some of the flour mixture and some of the crumbled bacon over the turnips. Drizzle with some of the remaining melted butter. Repeat layering turnips, flour mixture, bacon, and melted butter, ending with a layer of turnips. Pour the cream over the turnips.
Place the pie plate on a baking sheet. Spray a 9-inch square of foil with butter-flavored cooking spray and place buttered-side down, on top of the turnips. Place a heavy 8- or 9-inch cast-iron skillet or pie plate on top and press firmly. Fill the pan with pie weights or dried beans and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the bottom and sides are golden brown. (Check after 35 minutes, and if not browning, remove the foil and continue baking until the top is golden brown.) Remove from the oven. With a spatula, loosen the turnip cake around the edges. Let cool for 5 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate and cut into wedges. Garnish with minced thyme and serve. Serves 6-8.