Turnip Season

Turnips (Brassica rapa)
Image via Wikipedia

History / Geography
Turnips have been cultivated for centuries in historic places, such as Rome, Greece and India. They are very popular in Great Britain and Northern Europe. In Scotland, they can still be referred to as “neeps” in some areas.

Science
Brassic Rapa

Season
October – March

How to Select
They should have a white flesh with a purplish-white skin. Turnips should be heavy for their size. The roots should be firm, and if the greens are still attached, they should be bright and fresh. Avoid turnips with bruise marks or anything larger than 3 inches (7.5 cm). Older turnips (over 3 inches / 7.5 cm) tend to have a strong flavor and woody texture.

Store in a cool dry place (55 degrees F / 12 degrees C) for 2 months, or in a plastic bag in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Nutritional Qualities
Vitamin C

Trivia
Turnips were the first Jack o’ Lanterns! People used to carve faces into them, and place a piece of coal so they couls use them like we use flash lights!

In certain traditions, turnips have been used as a symbol of protection.

Spices
Allspice, anise, caraway, curry, mace, parsley, rosemary, savory, thyme, lemon and onion.

Equivalencies
1 lb. turnip = 3 – 4 medium turnips = 2 1/2 cups cooked turnip

Preparation
Wash and peel the skin with a vegetable peeler. Trim off the roots and greens.

Recipes

Classic Scotch Broth

6 quarts white stock — unsalted lamb-based
4 ounces pearl barley
1 pound lamb — small dice lean
4 ounces unsalted butter
12 ounces onion — brunoise
8 ounces carrot — brunoise
8 ounces celery — brunoise
8 ounces leek — brunoise
8 ounces turnip — brunoise
1 teaspoon kosher salt
white pepper
1 cup flat-leaf parsley — minced

Bring 1 quart stock to a boil in a large saucepan, over a moderate flame. Add the barley, cover, and simmer until tender. Bring the remaining stock to boil in another pot, over a moderate flame. Add the lamb, cover, and simmer until almost tender. Heat the butter in a heavy pot, over a medium flame. Add the vegetables and sweat until nearly tender. Add the lamb and its stock, simmer until meat and vegetables are tender. Add the barley and its stock, simmer for 5 minutes to meld flavors. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Garnish each portion with a small amount of minced parsley serve very hot.
Yields: 24 servings

Roasted Root Vegetables

4 red potatoes — quartered
4 turnips — quartered
2 parsnips — sliced 1″ thick
2 carrots — sliced 1″ thick
1 yam — cut 1″ thick
16 pearl onions — peeled
4 beets — quartered
8 garlic cloves — peeled
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons rosemary, fresh
salt and pepper — to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Wash and cut the above vegetables into suitable sized chucks. Preferably, big enough to put into one’s mouth without having to cut it any further.

Let the vegetables sit on a paper towel to drain them of any excess water. Pat each piece dry. This will ensure that each piece comes out crispy.

Put all the vegetables into a Ziploc bag with the oil, salt, pepper and rosemary. Zip it shut and make sure everything is coated completely.

Place the contents into a pan, and bake for one hour. No basting is necessary.

Yields: 8 servings

Root Vegetable Soup

2 leek — white part only
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 cups chicken stock — homemade
3 carrot — peeled and cubed
3 turnip — peeled and cubed
2 parsnip — peeled and cubed
2 potato — red, peeled and cubed
2 head bibb lettuce — hearts, leaves separated & rinsed
2 cups fresh spinach leaves — stemmed & rinsed
salt — to taste
white pepper — to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons chives — fine minced
parsley — for garnish

Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and then crosswise into thin slices. Place in a colander and run under warm water to remove all traces of sand. Drain and set aside. In a large casserole, melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly for one minute without browning. Add the chicken stock and whisk until well blended. Add the reserved leeks, carrots, turnips, parsnips and potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are almost tender. Add the lettuce and spinach leaves to the soup, and season with salt and pepper. The lettuce should just wilt, but still remain crisp. Do not overcook. Before serving, add the heavy cream and heat the soup through without letting it come to a boil. Transfer the soup to a large tureen, sprinkle with chives and parsley and serve hot with thin slices of black bread.

Yields: 10 servings

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