A side dish that goes with anything
If given a choice between a bushel of turnips or a bushel of potatoes, I would take the turnips every time. Of course that assumes that I lived alone because Loretta would kick me out if she found out I had pulled a trick like that.
My wife used to claim that the only way she liked turnips was raw. I have since convinced her that she simply had never had them cooked properly. She would tell you now that she likes cooked turnips but, unlike yours truly, she would not want them every day. I, on the other hand, would be perfectly content if I never tasted another tater as long as I had turnips two or three times a week.
Like soup beans, turnips taste even better when they are warmed back up for a second or third time.
I usually cook enough to last me for at least three and sometimes four meals. I’ve even known my wife to take a helping of warmed over turnips and show surprise that they taste as well as they did when I first cooked them two days ago.
The biggest mistake most people make with turnips is over-cooking them and not adding something that will dull their “bitter” taste.
I like to slice/dice them into cubes a tad larger than most people do potatoes when they aim to make potato salad.
I use a two or three quart saucepan and fill it about ¼ full of water. I add roughly ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil and about one teaspoon of salt and bring it to a boil. Then I add two big table serving spoons of pure honey. If you let the water get hot before adding the honey, it will melt right off the spoon and prevent making a sticky mess on your stove top.
I generally dice up enough turnips to nearly fill the cooker, but I pepper them very liberally before adding them to the liquid brew. Then I let them boil for about 8 minutes until they are approximately the texture of potatoes intended for tater salad. If they get any softer than that they are ruined as far as I’m concerned and I’m pretty sure my wife would agree with me.
The end result is a side dish that goes well with about anything and is especially good with a bowl of soup beans and corn bread, a pork roast or, my favorite, corned beef brisket. I don’t eat corned beef nearly as often as I’d like to because it is so salty that it wreaks havoc on my blood pressure. I’ve already had two strokes and have good reason to not tempt fate very often. But sometimes I just can’t help myself.
I admit that the olive oil and honey I use to cook turnips counters the fact that they are one of the lowest calorie veggies out there. Nutrition experts even claim that turnips lower blood pressure but I suspect that my recipe probably counters that notion as well. But about anyway you fix them, a cup of turnips provides nearly 50 percent of the RDA for Vitamin C and they are very high in fiber.
None of which motivate me to eat them anymore than I already do. I eat turnips because I absolutely love them and I often get a desert dish full of leftovers out of the fridge to make a late night snack. Sometimes I’ll pop the dish into the microwave for 30 seconds, but more often than not, I eat em cold.
In the meantime, there are enough turnips in my garden right now to last me and several other families through the winter. A hard freeze only makes them taste better. If you bring them indoors and try to store them anywhere the temperature is above 50 degrees the tops will try to grow and the bulbs become pithy. You can dice them pan ready and store them in your freezer, I’m told, but I’ve never tried it. I have kept them whole for months in the crisper but I’ve also pulled them from the garden in February.
If you’re dying to try turnips or if curiosity is getting the best of you, come on over. I noticed several in the garden that are at least as big as soft balls and just one, that size, will make a mess. I’ll be more than happy to share with you and I’d be rather pleased with myself if I could make another turnip convert similar to the one I made of Loretta.
Reach longtime Enterprise columnist Ike Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook or 249 Charlie Brown Road, Paint Lick, KY 40461.