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Produce Corner - Turnips

The Produce Corner is a collaborative column by farmer and Dill Pickle owner Rob Montalbano and Dill Pickle's Produce Lead Buyer, Kristen Martinek. Here Rob shares info on some of his favorite in-season veggies including history, cooking ideas and storage tips; Kristen offers nutritional information and additional recipe ideas. Rob lives and works with his wife Christina on their farm in Sandwich, IL.

Think you don't like turnips? Think again.

Two of my absolute favorite turnips are the purple top and Hakurei. Best grown in Autumn's cool weather, turnips can be tender and delicious. The purple top turnip is gorgeous, with a creamy white root topped by a crown of purple. It's your traditional American turnip with a slightly bitter flavor (that bitter flavor gives turnips their amazing nutritional benefits!). The other common turnip you'll find around Chicago is the Hakurei, or the Japanese salad turnip. This all white, smaller turnip is outstanding. Slightly sweet and very mild, these turnips are delicious sliced and put atop salads raw. And please, please, please do not forgot the turnip greens. A staple of Southern cooking, turnip greens are a must. 

When buying turnips, look at both the roots and the greens. Look for greens that are crisp. A few holes in the leaves is a good thing. It means they were very likely grown organically. Just cut around them. Keep an eye out for firm, solid roots. Store roots and greens in separate containers. Place in the crisper where the greens should keep fresh for about 4 days. The roots of purple tops keep at least a few weeks while the Hakurei turnips should be eaten promptly.

Here is an easy and quick turnip recipe. Wash a bunch of turnips (with greens). Take off the greens and chop them up. Cut the turnips into quarters. In a sauté pan with a lid, heat a little olive oil. Add the turnips, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook about 5 minutes. Remove the turnips from the pan and add the greens to the pan. Cover, stir a few times, and cook until tender. Add a 1/4 cup white wine and cook until almost all the liquid is gone. Put the turnips back into the pan and cook another minute or so. Enjoy! –Rob

I too love the Hakurei & traditional purple top turnips. The flavor of the hakurei is a beautiful medley of sweet & bitter, making it a wonderful addition to any salad or as crudité to accompany your favorite dip. As Rob mentioned, turnip greens are packed with nutritional value; turnips & their greens are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, E, & K <-(antioxidants!). One of my favorite culinary explorations is turning a food into its mashed or whipped counterpart – just how many alternatives to mashed potatoes are there? TONS! Using purple top turnips, cut into cubes and toss in olive oil, pepper, and herbs of choice. Roast until soft & toss into food processor to mash up. Add some olive oil or butter to make it extra creamy and enjoy this sweetly bitter, nutritious mashup! - Kristen


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