One of the delights of buying seasonal veg boxes is that it introduces me to ingredients I wouldn’t automatically buy (or sometimes even see) in the supermarket. And being presented with a new ingredient means I also have the opportunity to be creative. My most recent challenge has been turnips.
Forever associated with Baldrick from Black Adder, for whom turnips were his dream food, they have never been high on my list of ‘ingredients I must get’. On previous veg box appearances, I’ve usually just added them to a tray of roasted root veg or into a veggie stew. Sometimes they’ve just been left in the bottom of the fridge, eventually ending up in the compost bin, which is not a good thing to do.
Currently I’m in Portugal in our house on the hill; it’s very easy to self-isolate here as there’s rarely anyone about at the best of times! There’s a fledgling organic farm nearby, so I popped out last week to grab a veg box. Seasonal produce can be limited certain times of the year, but in Portugal the season starts earlier than in the UK and produce grows well. And couldn’t be any fresher as I watched him harvest my rocket, lettuce and a lovely bunch of turnips complete with their greens.
Turnips are often thought to be a root vegetable, but they’re actually part of the super-healthy cruciferous family. Both the bulb and the leaves can be eaten, and both have different nutritional qualities. The bulb has a fantastic amount of fibre along with some vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and even a little zinc and protein. It also contains various phytonutrients which have anti-oxidant properties, including powerful purple ones found in the skin where it has peaked through the soil.
The leaves have an even wider range of nutritional goodies, so if you can get your hands on them, do! They’re a particularly good source of bioavailable calcium, great if you are dairy-free, along with B vitamins, vitamin C, iron and magnesium. They also have some powerful phytonutrients including lutein which is important for eye health and a range of betacarotene that supports the immune system, skin and eyes.
Turnip bulbs do have quite an earthy taste, so may need a little getting use to. They work particularly well with garlic and thyme, both of which have powerful immune supporting properties too. This recipe incorporates all of these, along with some heart healthy oats, making it a body-loving dinner. If you make it, do let me know what you think. It has more to it than Baldrick’s ‘Turnip Surprise’……… 🙂
- 2 medium turnips washed
- 1 medium onion sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic peeled and sliced
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme or
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 1 medium bunch turnips greens washed, or
- 100 g kale washed
For the sauce
- 250 ml oat cream
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast optional
- salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Trim the ends of the turnips and any tough blemishes. Slice into 1cm thick rounds. Pop the slices into the pan and simmer for 6-8 minutes until they start to soften but are not overcooked. Turn off the heat and drain. Leave to cool slightly.
- Heat a couple of tablespoons of water in the bottom of a medium fryin pan and add the sliced onions with a pinch of salt. Sauté on a medium heat for 5 minutes, adding more water if needed. Add the garlic and thyme to the pan and cook for another minute then add the turnip greens (or kale) to the pan and cook with the lid on for a couple of minutes. Turn off the heat.
- Blend the sauce ingredients together in a small blender pot or in a bowl with a hand blender.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Lightly spray the bottom and sides of an oven proof dish to prevent sticking (optional if oil-free, just be aware of extra washing up!).
- Layer half the turnip slices over the base of the dish. Cover with the onion and greens mix. Season with salt and pepper and add a little more thyme if desired. Finish with a second layer of turnip slices and season again.
- Poor the sauce over the layered turnip and move around to make sure it covers all the veg. Pop in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes until the turnips are super soft and the top is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and served immediately, or leave to cool and warm up in the oven later.