I am amazed at how many people scoff at the idea of eating turnips. They are a great, nutritious vegetable and can be used in so many different ways! My first questions are, “When did you eat them and how did you cook them?”. People usually say that they remember eating the bitter turnip greens as a kid and don’t recall the actual turnip. So, I would say, leave out the greens because they are often bitter (not always), and try cooking the root (the turnip) in new ways. The greens are super duper healthy for you, but a lot of people find them to be bitter and similar to mustard greens. I have heard that young turnips have less bitter greens, but unless you are growing them yourself or have access to them at your local farm markets, it is hard to find them.
What do I do with my turnips? I really like to get the purple top variety; they are larger, sweeter, and work really well in both creamy soups and as a noodle. Their flavor is on the mild side and they soak up the other flavors in the dish. They are available in the fall and sometimes in the spring (depends on where you live). These turnips should be a nice lavender purple on top and white on the rest of the vegetable. Don’t buy them if bruised, have lots of brown spotting, or if they have black holes on them. You will need to wash, peel them, and then chop or ‘noodle’ them before cooking them. They are rarely available with the greens – fyi.
By the way, the smaller, white variety is great for a little kick, similar to a radish when eaten raw. They can be bought with or without the greens attached. I like to eat these smaller turnips raw in little snacks; sliced vegan cheese with a slice of turnip, and a half of a grape makes a nice mouthful. I also like to match slices of turnip with slices of nectarine or peach. Then you get a sweet and slightly savory-spicy bite at once. Kids find these types of snacks fun to make and then eat too. You can be creative and make ‘stacks’.
This recipe used the purple top turnips that are now readily available at our local markets. When I made this recipe earlier today, it was to satisfy my pasta craving! I turned two large purple top turnips into noodles. Then I made carrot ribbons with a few carrots and grabbed a few handfuls of baby arugula. Tossed all of those veggies into a saute pan with some olive oil, basil, oregano, garlic, and onion powder and let it cook until soft. It was delicious all by itself, but I added in some leftover pulled pork and oh boy it was good!! My husband mixed in some leftover cod and said he really liked that combo too.
- 2 purple top turnips (baseball or softball size)
- 4 medium carrots
- 2 cups of baby arugula
- 2 - 3 Tbsp of olive oil
- 1 Tbsp of sweet dried basil
- 1 tsp of oregano
- 1/2 tsp of onion powder
- 1/4 tsp of garlic powder
- Wash, chop off both ends, peel remaining skin, and spiralize your turnips into noodles. Set aside in a large bowl.
- Wash and peel your carrots. Continue peeling until you can't get long ribbons anymore (a center carrot stick will be left over - save it for another recipe or eat as carrot sticks). Put your big pile of carrot ribbons in with your turnips.
- Add oil to a large saute pan and put on medium-high heat. Add in your turnips and carrots. Sprinkle with the herbs and spices (basil, garlic, onion, oregano) and let it cook down for 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat down a little to medium.
- Add in your baby arugula and give the vegetables a toss with your tongs. Continue letting the veggies cook until they are soft and pliable. You should mix them around periodically so they cook evenly and don't burn. They should be done cooking in 5-7 minutes.
- Transfer to a serving bowl or tupperware for storage.
- This can be a side dish, a vegetarian entree or meat based meal. I enjoyed it with some leftover pulled pork shreds. My husband had it with leftover cod. We both thought it was delicious! The baby had his turnip noodles as-is...no arugula or carrot ribbons for him just yet.