Turnip Trials

We’re back to the time of the year when a significant portion of my CSA box is greens and root vegetables. This week I got beet, mustard and turnip greens as well as beets and turnips. I love beet greens sauteed and I’ve used mustard greens in the past and have some ideas about what to do with them. However, turnips and turnip greens are new for me and I’m trying to find something tasty to make with them.

One way is southern style which involves cooking them down with salt pork. Unfortunately, salt pork isn’t readily available so that exact recipe is out. However, the general southern style of cooking them down with fat and some water seems to be pretty popular. Many people comment about the bitterness though. So I’m wondering if there is a recipe that would help compensate for that.

Horta (greens) are really popular in Greek cooking. It is really common just to saute them up and serve them with a bit of olive oil and lemon. My grandmother would make dandelion greens this way when I was growing up and I loved them. It is very much an acquired tasty though depending on how strong/bitter the greens are. Several websites suggest that one way to take some of the bitterness out of the greens is to blanch them in salt water before either sauteing them or putting them in a pie.

Another way to compensate for the bitterness is to season them with lemon juice. This is super classic in my family. This works well when they are sauteed or if you want to put them in a pie.

The turnips themselves also need some special treatment if you don’t want them to taste bitter. One method is to peel really well. Back to the ring you see when you cut the top off. This can be like a 1/4 inch for larger turnips. Another method is to change water several times while cooking.

I decided to be innovative and make something a little different with my turnips. I like homemade gnocchi so I decided to use my turnips to make gnocchi. Basically, to do this I peeled my turnips well and then roasted them in the oven. Mashed them thoroughly then followed an existing potato gnocchi recipe as the base for the recipe. Because the turnip is stickier than the potato you probably will need to add a bit more flour to the recipe. Make sure you roll the tubes out small enough. Otherwise your gnocchi will end up too big and then take longer to cook or be too chewy.

If you plan on freezing the final product for future use, your best bet is to lay them all out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and then stick them in the freezer to solidify. This way they won’t stick together when you put them in the freezer for storage. If you’re looking for ways to dress them up when you make them, one good recipe is involves pancetta, halved cherry tomatoes, arugula, mushrooms, and parmesan cheese.

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