Move over kale and cauliflower. The turnip has been crowned the new “it” vegetable and we have the US’s First Lady Michelle Obama to thank for it. In a recent Instagram video gone viral, Mrs. Obama (posing with a lovely, plump turnip) grooves to the Lil’ Jon smash hit “Turn Down For What,” simply asking “Turnip for what?” But before you dismiss the vegetable as insipid and boring, we ask you to give it another chance. Because if Mrs. Obama thinks turnips are hot, so do we.
Here are five ways you too will fall in love with turnips…permanently:
It’s no secret that bacon instantly improves most dishes. Because the turnip has a mild flavour, an easy way to amp up its wow factor is to pair it with a strong (and smoky) partner like bacon. Instead of boiling the turnips, bake or roast them with some finely chopped bacon, brown sugar or honey and garlic. If serving a simple mash, finish the dish with crisp bits of bacon and fresh chives for extra bite.
One of our standard turnip cooking cheats is mixing it with other vegetables. Oh, and cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. Potato is a natural pairing, as are carrots. For an updated turnip gratin add some sweet potatoes or beets, garlic, caramelized onions and a good dose of cheese. Honestly, it will warm the cockles of the most stubborn turnip hater’s heart. You can take it one step further and add some bacon for a little je ne sais quoi.
No time to get fussy with the humble root veggie? Just add some butter. Trust us. A healthy dollop brings the slightly sweet aroma of the turnips to life. If you happen to have a flavoured butter infused with fresh herbs or spices (think chile or mustard seed) on hand, even better. Prep the turnips to your liking (we suggest roasted or mashed) and then toss or mix with a generous portion of butter before serving.
It may seem like an odd pairing, but vinegar and turnips make happy friends. In the Middle East, beet-tinted pickled turnips are popular and make an appearance everywhere from mezze platters to shawarma stands. Finely grated raw with apple or jicama in a slaw, turnips benefit from an acidic dash of apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice that can tame the faint bitterness some bulbs carry. A dash of brown sugar or honey to the dressing rounds off the sharpness and enhances the neeps’ sweetness.
Imagine this: Slow-braised turnips in coconut milk with shrimp, or in a tomato curry with fenugreek and cumin. In India, this is how you’ll probably eat turnips in the west and north respectively. The key is to inject the delicate turnip with an additional level of flavouring.
Newsflash: Simply boiling Turnips in water isn’t going to add any extra oomph. A good stock changes that. Throw in butter and extra vegetables and you’re left with succulent, silky turnip slices. Who can resist that?
Do you have a favourite turnip recipe? Share it with us in the comments below.