Alright, I’ll be honest here folks. The creative juices just aren’t flowing today. It might have something to do with the celebratory scotch last night, or it might have to do with my long-time-coming admission to myself that I just don’t like turnips all that much. Yep, you heard me right. I don’t like cooked turnips. I tried and I tried. I roasted them. I put them in soup. I put them in potpie (which I do admit wasn’t all that bad). I fried them. And now I’ve finally mashed them with roasted garlic. If roasted garlic can’t endear them to my taste buds, nothing can.
Oddly enough, I don’t mind them raw. On a good day, I might even crave them in a salad.
It’s a shame really that cooked turnips and I can’t get along. The humble turnip has quite the reputation after all. In ancient civilization, it was considered the vegetable of choice for nobility. Around the same time, some folks were using fermented turnips for an unusual brew. Mmmm…turnip beer… In America’s early colonies, turnips were as valuable as coinage, being used as currency in the marketplace. Heck, sometime in the 17th and 18th centuries, there purportedly was an “Age of the Turnip”, thanks to the introduction of new varieties that made turnips an even more valuable crop for farmers.
I was all excited to try out this mashed turnip idea. It’s a shame my “Age of the Turnip” isn’t meant to be. But if you like cooked turnips, I have no doubt it’ll be a delish dish for you. If I weren’t adverse to cooked turnips, I’d definitely be incorporating this twist on the classic mashed potatoes into my Thanksgiving fare. The vivid Scarlet Queen variety that I included with the milder white Hakurei gave the mash a delicate pink hue and (unfortunately for me since I’m not a fan) a spicier flavor.
If you’re not a cooked turnip fan like me, there’s still something to take away from this recipe. Roasting garlic is shamefully easy but changes everything when you add it to mashed potatoes. Once roasted, garlic mellows and sweetens its flavor. I’d go so far as to say it gets almost buttery so it’s a wonderful compliment to many dishes that typically include butter as a key flavor agent – in particular, anything with corn, carrots, or potatoes will benefit from roasted garlic. The farm’s German Extra Hardy variety is very pungent raw and roasts up beautifully with still distinctive notes of fresh garlic behind the stronger sweet caramelized flavor.
Turnip and Roasted Garlic Mash
A Straight from the Farm original
2 bunches of mild turnips (Hakurei variety works well)
1 large head of garlic
2 T. butter
generous pinches of salt and pepper
fresh chives to garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place whole head of garlic, unpeeled, on a baking sheet lined with foil. Roast garlic in oven for 30 minutes or until very squishy. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
While garlic is roasting, bring a large pot of salted water up to a boil. Wash turnips well, trimming off tops and roots. Cut into 1 inch pieces and boil until tender, about 20 minutes depending on the variety. Drain off water and allow to sit for five minutes. Turnips will release more water as they cool. Drain additional water off and use either a potato masher or an electric mixer to begin mashing up the turnips.
Cut a half inch off the top of the roasted head of garlic, exposing the cloves inside. With your hand, squeeze out all the garlic pulp into the turnips. Add butter and salt and pepper before continuing to mash turnips to the desired consistency. If turnips appear to be releasing more water after being mashed, drain it off and add more salt if necessary.
Serve immediately with a few snips of fresh garlic chives. If desired, serve cooked turnip tops along side turnip mash. To cook turnip tops, simple wash and roughly chop. Heat olive oil or butter in a skillet and add turnips when hot. Season with salt and pepper. Turnip greens are fairly bitter.