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Last Chance Foods: Turnips

Friday, December 04, 2009

With regards to wacky food news, turnips took the cake this week when an elderly man in Clovis, N.M, tried to fight off muggers with a bag of the root vegetable. With early December signaling the last turnip harvest of the year, the cold-weather staple might well be worth fighting for — at least at the local farmers' market.

At Angelica Kitchen in the East Village, executive chef Amy Chaplin has been cooking with different types of turnips, and said that her favorite is the small Japanese variety. "I like eating them raw or really lightly blanched," she said. "They're tender and juicy, like a radish but without the heat."

Opened in 1973, Angelica Kitchen has a vegan menu and sources from area farms whenever possible. Chaplin, whose blog is Coconut & Quinoa, notes that the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York is particularly suited to growing turnips. The menu at Angelica Kitchen is comprised of produce harvested no more than 48 hours before being served, so proximity is key.

Chaplin also admitted that she even prefers the earthier turnip to the more traditional potato. In addition to being chock full of vitamins A and C, turnips also have anticarcinogenic qualities, according to the chef, since they are part of the cabbage family. Moreover, turnips are wholesome comfort food for winter. "Root vegetables are a great thing to eat in winter because they're grounding and provide that steady energy," explained Chaplin. "It's easy to be seduced by all the other vegetables during the summer."

For Thanksgiving this year, Chaplin revived a recipe for turnip paté first conjured by Angelica Kitchen founder Leslie McEachern several years ago.


Turnip Paté
(Amy Chaplin)

  • 1 small head of garlic, 4 to 5 cloves
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 pounds turnips, peeled
  • sea salt
  • fresh black pepper

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Cut the top off the head of garlic and drizzle with about a teaspoon of the olive oil. Wrap in foil and bake for 40 minutes or until soft.
3. Cut the turnips in ¾ inch dices and steam for 4 minutes.
4. Place on a baking tray and drizzle with remaining olive oil add a large pinch of salt and pepper, toss well.
5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until soft and a little browned.
6. Squeeze the garlic out of its skin, and place it and the turnips in a food processor. Blend until smooth.

Serve room temperature with flat bread or crackers.


Other options:
Pan-Roasted Turnips (The Spendid Table)
Scalloped Turnips (Simply Recipes)
Creamy Turnip Soup with Carrot Julienne (Epicurious)
Turnip, Apple, and Jerusalem Artichoke Soup (Serious Eats)
Arabic Pickled Turnips (ABC)

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Last Chance Foods covers produce that’s about to go out of season, gives you a heads up on what’s still available at the farmers market and tells you how to keep it fresh through the winter.

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