Turnips are a beautiful and often misunderstood vegetable. Like their gnarly cousins rutabaga, kohlrabi, and celeriac, they get a bad rap for being bland and boring. Nothing could be further from the truth! I love turnips and almost screamed when I spotted these gorgeous smooth white Japanese turnips at the market again after the summer. The variety is called Tokyo and they are hands down my favorite. I buy them every.single.week. They are creamy, sweet, tender, and come attached with a beautiful free bunch of their own greens. I always use both the tops and the roots, often in the same recipe.
Also available in my area are either “Purple Top” (white and purple) or “Scarlet Queen” (neon pink outside and white inside) which are both a larger turnip. When they are smaller, they are crunchy and juicy, and do well julienned into a salad raw. The larger ones can get spicy or bitter and do best with longer cooking. Try peeling and cutting up a few and steaming them until very soft with potatoes, then mashing. A nice hot roast in the oven or cast iron skillet tames their sometimes aggressive bite into a caramelized and silky sweetness.
As for the greens, they are so good if you get nice fresh ones. They are tender and mild. Just cut off the wiry stems and then saute them like you would any other hearty green- or combine them with kale and chard into a mixed greens stir fry.
Choose turnips that are firm, with fresh sturdy greens attached + bulbs that are smaller rather than larger. When you get them home, cut off the greens from the bulbs (the greens will continue to suck moisture from the roots) and store them separately. If you end up with quite large turnips, you may need to peel them. Take a bite and see if the skin is tough or bitter.
Below you’ll find our favorite simple recipe for the small white Tokyo turnips, and a few links to other recipes utilizing turnips in a variety of ways.
miso braised turnips with their greens (serves 4- adapted from this recipe )
1 tablespoon white miso
1 tablespoons coconut oil or vegan butter
2 bunches small Tokyo turnips with greens
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons mirin
2 green onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Stir together miso and the butter/oil. Cut the stems off of the greens. Keep the greens and compost the stems (they are wiry and not pleasant to eat). Chop the leaves coarsely. Halve the turnips or leave whole if very small. Place in a skillet with water and mirin. Bring to a boil and then cover and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes or until almost tender (add more water a little at a time if it starts to get dry). Add greens, stirring to coat. Cover and cook 1 minute. Uncover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until everything is tender and the liquid has reduced to a glaze. Stir in the miso mix and cook 1 more minute. Sprinkle the green onions and sesame seeds on top.
We like to serve this with veggie sushi and steamed kabocha squash, yum!
additional turnip recipes to try:
Simple roasted turnips (with the large purple top varieties): Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and cut up turnips into 1/2 inch chunks. Toss with olive oil, turn onto a sheet pan and sprinkle with flaky salt and pepper. Roast until caramelized on the edges and totally tender.
Turnip Veggie Burgers: this recipe whizzes up both the greens and roots in the burger mix!
Turnip and Kale Gratin decidedly not vegan, but I’m planning to try it for Thanksgiving, leaving out the eggs and cheese, skipping the cream infusing first step, and simply tossing the ingredients together and baking with this mozzarella sauce. I’ve used this sauce before to bind stuffing and it worked perfectly because of the gooey nature of the cornstarch. I’d also add some nutmeg and use fresh thyme.
Turnip, apple, and brussels sprout slaw : so crunchy, fresh and easy.
I hope this inspired you guys to get some turnips this week at the market! Share your turnips with me @mamaeatsplants on Instagram so I can see! Be well, friends xx