As Autumn’s chill settles in all around us, I find myself excited about all of the cruciferous vegetables coming our way. I adore the pungent sweetness of these cool weather varieties; cabbage, turnips, radishes, kale, bok choy, kohlrabi...I love them all. I love them because of their flavor, their high nutritional content, the crisp crunchiness they offer, and their incredible versatility in the kitchen.
Studies have shown that when eaten regularly, cruciferous vegetables help lower our risk of cancer by introducing anti-cancer phytochemicals into the body, and by helping rid the body of free radicals. Additionally, they help protect against heart disease, reduce inflammation within the body, and are abundant in a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
It’s almost impossible for me to choose one particular favorite, but if I had to, salad turnips would be a top contender. Their arrival in our CSA box reliably initiates a heated debate over who gets first dibs, typically resulting in their being gobbled before we’ve even unpacked the rest of the box. My kids discovered a deep love for these sweet and crunchy turnips several years ago on a visit to the farm. One of the women working in the greenhouse offered one to each of them. They brushed off the dirt and ate them whole, like apples. To this day, we call them “apple turnips” in my house, and this is how they are most often devoured. If we can exercise enough restraint to actually add them to a dish, another favorite is to slice them thinly and add the crunchy pieces to salad. Our middle ground, between eating them like apples and adding them to salads, is to slice them into rounds, sprinkle with salt, and eat them after they’ve had a few minutes to sit and the salt has started to draw out the water. It’s a delectable, simple, indulgently delicious way to savor them. But that’s it. We don’t get fussy over our salad turnips around here, because they’re so GOOD we can’t bear to meddle.
However, not everyone is a crazed, raw-turnip loving enthusiast. Whether you’re an avid fan or feeling a bit tentative about these somewhat uncommon vegetables, rest assured that there are many wonderful things you can do with them.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Cook the greens - use them the same way you’d use chard or kale, they’re delicious!
Gently saute them in butter (this link will show that my house isn’t the only place likening these gems to apples, either!)
Make them into zesty quick pickles (no canning required!)
Ferment them….they are SO good this way!
Roast them into golden perfection
Use them in place of regular turnips in this delicate soup
Add them to stir fries, noodle/rice bowls, or fried rice (either diced and raw for a fantastic crunch, or cooked with the rest of the ingredients for a softer touch)
What will you be doing with yours?