February 11, 2008 at 10:53 am 7 comments

Turnip in Repose 

It was slightly amusing to get into the kitchen this weekend and not have bread on the brain.  For the first time in nearly three weeks, I was on the prowl for an original idea for something unrelated to combining flour and yeast.  As many of you smart and seasonally-aware readers know, there was a reason I was becoming a bread-making fiend;  there’s very little in the way of local vegetables and fruits in the midst of February, at least here in Philadelphia. 

Turnip in repose in BW

By official count this past Saturday afternoon, I had in my possession:
  ~ two large Purple Top turnips
  ~ one stub of a parsnip
  ~ two Nittany apples 
  ~ about a dozen rough looking little potatoes
  ~ two heads of garlic
  ~ one sorry excuse for a rutabaga
  ~ an assortment of oven-dried corn, tomatoes and peppers

freshly cut turnip

Time to get creative!  I thought I’d tackle a turnip first since I was in the mood for something summery. Eeerrcch!  What?!?  Did I just associate turnips, the epitome of winter root vegetables, with summer flavors?!  I’ve lost my marbles, surely!  Nope.  See, raw turnips in my mind are associated closely with the flavor of radishes, which in turn are very much associated with summertime salads in my mental rolodex of seasonal dishes.  If you still think I’m a loon, just play along and humor me. 

Salted turnip under pressure to draw out water and bitterness

As a whole, I’ve generally gotten over my prejudice against turnips, but I do still think of them as somewhat too bitter for my tastes.  I guess it was this perception that led me to think about how salt is used to draw the bitterness out of eggplants.  Why not do the same with turnips?  Really, in the end, it was a very simplified method of pickling the raw turnip, but I wasn’t thinking of that from the start. 

Spicy Turnip Straws

I tasted the turnip after an hour or two in the salt, but decided it wasn’t “done” yet.  After it sat overnight, I found its texture very interesting, and there was no bitterness of which to speak.  Mission accomplished.  Or was it? 

Ironically, the turnip was now missing some “zip” in the flavor department.  Yep, it was really rather bland. After a toss in lemon juice and a spice dusting, I chowed down on what turned out to be one of my favorite (and prettiest) turnip dishes to date.  The final medley of flavors was bright and warm, a great wintertime substitution for coleslaw next to a sandwich or burger.  Or you can follow my lead and just eat them as a fun afternoon snack!

Reaching for a turnip straw...

But here’s my conundrum.  What the heck do I call this dish?  I settled on Spicy Turnip Straws for the sake of getting this post up instead of delaying it until I had some proverbial light bulb go on in my head.  But “Rustic Turnip Coleslaw”, “Indonesian-Style Turnip Pickles”, or “Seasoned Salty Turnip Stix” all held some merit too. 

Yikes!  Attack on the turnip straws!

A little help please? Surely you all are a creative bunch that can figure out the most appropriate name for these? And sorry, no, “Wands of Wonder” is one I’ve already contemplated and put aside for fear someone would get the wrong idea…

Spice is good!

Spicy Turnip Straws
A Straight from the Farm Original

2 large turnips
1 t. salt
1 lemon
garam masala spice mix*

Slice turnips into thick julienne sticks.  Toss with salt and place in a bowl.  Place a small plate on top and then a can or mug on top of that to create pressure on the turnip sticks.  Chill overnight.
Drain off water from the turnips.  Squeeze the lemon over the turnip and toss.  Place in serving dish(es) and sprinkle lightly with garam masala and serve immediately.  If you want to prepare ahead, just wait to sprinkle on the spice until just before serving.  Can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days.

*If you don’t have garam masala on hand, you could use a combination of ground cumin, coriander, cloves, and ginger.

(serves 3-4)

Spicy Turnip Straws or Sticks or whatever

Entry filed under: Purely Vegetables, Recipes. Tags: , , , , .

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. taylor  |  February 11, 2008 at 11:38 am

    I like what you came up with – except “spicy” makes me think of heat. How about “spiced”? Yeah, splitting hairs here…

  • 2. Jennie  |  February 11, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Good point, Taylor. I hadn’t recognized the difference until you kindly pointed it out. 🙂 Edits will be made shortly.

  • 3. Spicy Turnip Sticks « Kitchen Experiment  |  February 11, 2008 at 11:47 am

    […] Turnip Sticks Got this recipe from a fellow Wordpress blogger. Had to archive this […]

  • 4. kalamafoodie  |  February 12, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Hi! I’ve just recently found your site and have already bookmarked many recipes. I’m a member of a CSA in Michigan, so I’m eating many of the same veggies as you and looking for new and exciting things to do with turnips and rutabagas. I made these sticks tonight and loved them. I also found that I only needed to salt them for 20-30 minutes for the turnips to lose their bitterness–they were fairly small, so maybe they’re just naturally less bitter. Anyhow, thanks so much for the inspiration!

  • 5. Jennie  |  February 13, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Kalamafoodie – Glad you liked the recipe! And super glad to hear you’re a CSA member on the hunt for new ideas. 🙂 Yep, the size of the turnip is relative to the bitterness levels…the bigger they are the more bitter. Thanks for testing it out on some smaller ones and reporting back on the timing. 🙂 BTW, I’m going to be attempting a turnip stuffed with rutabaga and peas recipe today… look for it in the near future if you want more ideas for these two winter die-hards. 🙂

  • 6. Alanna  |  February 13, 2008 at 11:21 am

    The Feb issue of Bon Appetit did something similar (without the chilling/pressing) and then dusted with ground fennel – might be another spice option!

  • 7. Jennie  |  February 13, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Thanks for the tip, Alanna! I should really start subscribing to some cooking magazines, but I figure when I buy a new cook*book* once a month, I really shouldn’t treat myself to any subscriptions. 🙂


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