Rooting for the underdog: Turnips!

As I was browsing through baby food recipes the other day, I came across a recipe (if you can call it that) for puréed turnips.  That’s when I realized, I don’t really know what a turnip tastes like.  In fact, have I ever even had a turnip??  It’s not a particularly unusual vegetable but often overlooked. But how have I gone thirty somewhat years without ever having eaten one?  Maybe I’ve had some in disguise, within a stew or a medley of winter root vegetables, I’ll never really know.   Who even eats turnips nowadays anyway?

Ok, so time to get cultured.  I decide to call my mom.  She’s a clever lady and she’s over fifty, so surely she’s eaten her share of turnips back in the day when the only vegetables available at the grocery store were iceberg lettuce, potatoes, cabbage, beets, and…turnips?  I tell her how my baby food recipe book says turnips make “a savoury purée that baby will devour”.  She laughs then goes on to lament horrible turnip memories from her childhood…could turnips really be that bad? Well, best to test them out on baby before committing to a recipe for the dinner table.  I head to the store to pick some up.  Luckily I kinda know what they look like and they don’t go by some code name (like the term filberts for hazelnuts) so finding them proves easy enough.
Back at home, I steam them until very soft and mash them up into a smooth-ish consistency.  I give them a try.  Hey, not bad!  They’re mild with a bit of sweetness.  Sort of a cabbage taste.  Anna likes them too.  She polishes them off with gusto.
And turnips get high marks in the nutrition department as an excellent source of vitamin C, folic acid, calcium and magnesium.  Apparently it’s best to buy small to medium sized turnips as the larger ones tend to have a slightly bitter flavour.  The greens can be eaten as well.

Later, after Anna had fallen asleep, I pour myself a cup of tea and browse tastespotting to  discover a myriad of tasty turnip recipes to try.  This one’s at the top of my list.  I call my mom and tell her that turnips are in fact, quite delicious.  I don’t know why they get such a bad rap.  Maybe they just need to be rediscovered… Could turnips be the new kale?


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