Ever-So-Slightly-Sweet Mashed Turnips
6-8 baby turnips (or 2-3 regular turnips)
1 medium yukon gold potato
1/4 t. ground ginger
3/4 T. brown sugar
1 T. butter
1-2 T. heavy cream (or substitute milk)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fill a medium-large pot with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
If using regular (rather than baby) turnips, peel turnips (baby turnips do not need peeling). Peel potato. Cut turnips and potato into 1 inch chunks. Add to boiling water, partially cover, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until chunks are easily pierced with a knife.
Drain turnips and potatoes. Either pass turnips and potatoes through the coarse screen of a food mill, or mash by hand with a potato masher, meat mallet, or the back of a fork. Mix in ginger, brown sugar, butter, and cream. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Turnips, along with brussels sprouts, parsnips, rutabagas, and radishes elicit the ‘ewww’ / ‘ick’ / ‘ughh’ / ‘do we have to have that?’ reaction from many people. Their tastes are strong and assertive, and there’s no ignoring the fact that you’re eating one of nature’s earthiest vegetables. Brussels sprouts I’ve come to love, along with some radishes (watermelon radishes in particular), but turnips still remain the figurative black sheep of the vegetable kingdom. So, I can’t really explain why I bought a whole bag of baby turnips at the farmer’s market about a month back. Some people impulse-buy clothes; I impulse-buy vegetables. Perhaps it was because they were tiny and less threatening than full-sized turnips; perhaps it was because I think I’m too old to be picky with my vegetables and subconsciously believe I need to get past my turnip aversion, or perhaps I was simply not in my right mind that cold December morning at the farmer’s market…
The bag of baby turnips sat on my counter for over a month, unused. If nothing else, the turnip must be saluted for its staying power. Tucked away in a cool storage place, they’ll happily keep for many months. Mine were so happy sitting on the counter that they actually sprouted new green leaves, which I took as an indication they were very alive (in the vegetable sense) and full of life. Ah, tubers. With Steven out of town this week, I took the opportunity to make some more adventurous vegetable and vegetarian dishes — turnips, dandelion greens, and boiled peanuts to name a few.
I decided that this was the week that I would cook the turnips that had for so long been staring at me from the kitchen counter. Saturday passed, then Sunday, then Monday, then Tuesday… yet they remained on the counter. Finally on Wednesday I succumbed to their powers and made them into a impromptu mash with my newest and favorite kitchen gadget, a food mill (also very useful for making Persimmon Applesauce).
I added a potato to fluff things up and add a little extra volume, some ground ginger and brown sugar to offset the heavily earthy taste of the turnips, and a bit of butter and cream, because really, what isn’t made better by adding a little butter and heavy cream? The end product was SURPRISINGLY delicious! No kidding, I actually had seconds and then thirds (seconds and thirds are ok in my book when it’s vegetable related). In fact, they were so tasty that I added turnips to my farmer’s market shopping list for tomorrow. I’ve been converted! Turnips, when prepared with the right spices and a thoughtful hand, can be a delicious and scrumptious treat. And to boot, they’re rarely more than a dollar or two per pound, making them an economical choice as well. If you’ve sworn off turnips, as I had, I encourage you to give them a second chance — I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.