Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Adventures in Produce: Turnips

An amazing thing happened last week.  A miraculous thing, really.  The Boy asked me to buy turnips.

That’s right:  he of the Five Approved Foods specifically asked me to buy a strange vegetable he’d never eaten before.  He even reminded me to buy turnips before I headed to the grocery store.  When I asked what made him decide that he was ready to eat turnips, he said “Well, I’ve never had one before.  I figured I should at least give them a try.”

Can’t argue with that kind of logic.

Turnips are actually very pretty, as vegetables go.  They’re a lovely shade of purple, gradually fading into a creamy shade of white.  Once you’ve peeled off their very thin skin, they look a lot like potatoes.  The texture is very different, though–a little more solid, but not as crisp.  I tried a cube of turnip raw, on its own, and found the taste fairly similar to a very mild radish.  The Boy even tried a piece of raw turnip while I was in the process of chopping them up.  I waited for him to gag and refuse to eat the cooked turnips I was making, but to my surprise he pronounced it “not too bad.”

The Hubs and I disagree about whether our family had tried turnips before this.  He had eaten them as a kid, at his grandmother’s house, but he was sure I’d never made them for him.  I’m pretty sure I added turnips to a roasted root vegetable mix I made a few years ago, while we were still receiving weekly boxes from a local organic produce delivery service.  Either way, turnips clearly hadn’t made a positive or lasting impression on either of us.  While I normally opt for the simplest preparation for any vegetable we eat in the Foodie family, I really wanted The Boy to have a good experience with the turnips he’d requested.  It was important to me that he feel positive about taking a risk and trying something new.

So, I did a few things I wouldn’t normally do.  After I cubed the turnips (3 smallish ones), I simmered them in 1/4 cup of water.   Once the water had evaporated, they were nice and soft.  That’s when I added a tablespoon of butter to the saucepan, stirring to coat the turnips; then I sprinkled on a tablespoon of white sugar, and I kept stirring until the sugar started to caramelize.  Then I sprinkled that mixture with a little coarse sea salt, and I served it on the side of a tri-tip roast I’d made for dinner.

Well.  Those turnips were out of this world: sweet and salty, soft and crunchy (thanks to the sea salt.)  The Boy gobbled them right up.  When The Hubs later asked him if he wanted another spoonful, he said, “I’d better not.  I don’t want to develop a turnip addiction.”  The very fact that a turnip addiction is even within the realm of possibility for The Boy makes me so happy, I hardly know what to say about it.

Except this: Will we be eating turnips again?  Oh yes.  Most definitely.


One Response to “Adventures in Produce: Turnips”

  1. 1

    Christine — March 7, 2012 @ 8:30 pm

    This has just thrown gasoline on my craving for root vegetables.

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