A Study in Root Vegetables: Turnips

I reminded myself of one of my own (latent) core philosophies today.  It’s the philosophy that says a single item of produce is at its best when simply prepared.  You may think I had already recognized that belief in myself, but I realized that I’ve unknowingly taken it one step further.  Through experimentation, I have discovered certain complimentary ingredients/preparations (herbs, spices, reductions, light sauces) enhance the qualities of the central ingedient.

Having so many excellent greens and vegetables in the autumn markets, I headed to Findlay Market on Sat morning to see what I could work with.

Turnips are under-appreciated.  They have great color, but it seems most people don’t know what to do with them or aren’t attracted to the idea of thinking about what to do with them.  I researched common preparation technique in numerous recipes and here’s what I came up with:

Braised Turnips

Ingredients

3 Tbsp unsalted butter;  2 pounds medium turnips, peeled, halved and cut into 1″ wedges;  1.5 C water;  juice of one whole lemon

Bread Crumb Topping

2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 C panko bread crumbs, 1 Tbsp sesame seeds, grated zest of 1 whole lemon, 1 Tbsp chopped parsely, herbed salt

Melt butter in a 12″ saucepan or skillet on medium heat.  Add turnips, water, lemon juice and 1/2 tsp salt.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes, testing for doneness with an inserted knife.  Remove lid, stir, and increase heat to low-medium until all liquid has evaporated and has glazed vegetables.

Heat olive oil in small skillet.  Add sesame seeds and saute for 2-3 minutes until they start to toast.  Add bread crumbs; saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly to toast.  Remove from heat; stir in parsely, lemon zest and herbed salt.  Top warm turnips with bread crumbs and serve.This could be your new favorite dish.  Simple, earthy, elegant, with the pronounced natural sweetness of the turnip made more prominent by fresh lemon.  Lovely.

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