Mar 28 2011

Turnips Save the Meal

I’ve been attempting to inject some life into our staid Winter meals.  So what ingredient did I turn to?  Turnips!  Turnips?!  Yes.  We built a meal around these ugly duckling root vegetables last weekend.

Our dinner was created by combining a dish from Emeril "there’s-no-such-thing-as-too-much-seasoning" Lagasse and a dish from seasonally-focused British gardener, Sarah Raven.  While I doubt either chef created their respective recipes with the hopes that I’d pair them together, we came away with a complete meal and a new appreciation for turnips' hearty, earthy flavor.


I’ve always lumped turnips and radishes into the same unappealing boat.  Even Sarah Raven admits that she’s “not a massive fan of the turnip”, right before sharing her braised turnip recipe.  Turnips are close relatives to rutabagas and frequently show up with traditional Scottish haggis.  Turnips turn bitter quickly—this fact must account for my natural distrust of them. I have a bitter turnip memory buried deep!

3 turnips

We bought one large rutabaga and 3 smaller white turnips.  We used the large rutabaga for Emeril’s Turnip and Radish Slaw and braised the smaller white turnips.  Each dish was successful on its own and paired remarkably well together.

You can pair the braised turnips with nearly anything.  They taste like a cross between celeriac and potato and would work well with meat or fish (or haggis, if you prefer!).  The Turnip and Radish slaw is a refreshing winter dish, pulled together by its strong vinaigrette.  The salad is not heavy enough for a complete meal but makes a well-portioned lunch dish, especially with a side of crusty bread.

Turnip & Radish Slaw with Jumbo Lump Crab Meat

Adapted from Farm to Fork

Serves 4


1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 tablespoon chopped chives (or spring onion)

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons chopped parsley

1 teaspoons drained capers

1/3 cup champagne vinegar

½ cup grapeseed oil

Salt and  pepper

1 baseball sized turnip, peeled & julienned

6 small radishes, julienned

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 pound jumbo lump crab meat


1)    In a bowl, combine the shallot, chives, mustard, parsley, capers, vinegar, and grapeseed oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

2)    In another bowl, toss ¼ cup of the vinaigrette with the turnips and radishes.

3)    Combine the lemon juice and cayenne with the mayonnaise.  Add 1/8 cup of the vinaigrette and mix well.  Toss in the crabmeat, coating well.

4)    Divdie the turnip-radish mixture onto plates.  Spoon the crab meat on top.

Braised Turnips

Adapted from Garden Cookbook

Serves 4-6 as a side dish

braised turnips


3 medium sized turnips

3.5 tablespoons of butter

1 teaspoons sugar

salt and pepper

4 teaspoons white wine vinegar


Peel and cut the turnips into chunks.  Heat the butter in a sauté pan and sweat the turnips over very gentle heat for 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and add the sugar.

Pour the vinegar in and turn up the heat until the liquid is reduced by about 2/3rds.  Add half a cup of water, cover with a lid, and cook gently for 10 minutes.