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February 23rd, 2017

“Turnip” at the Farmers Market

by Yael Ben-Chaim

Turnips are a root vegetable with ties to potatoes and beets. Turnips can be cooked similarly to potatoes; but if you are looking for a less carbohydrate-filled and starch-heavy vegetable, turn to the turnip.  Like potatoes, turnips can be mashed, added to soups, and store well. Both beets and turnips have edible greens and can be eaten raw or cooked, but turnips are have less sugar than beets. Turnips are most closely related to arugula and radishes, due to their mustardy, spicy taste. Turnips taste different based on their size; smaller turnips are sweeter and taste great raw, while larger turnips should be cooked to remove any bitter tastes.

Available in Maryland all year round, turnips are tenacious root vegetables that can survive in frozen grounds and low-nutrient dense soils, and continue to grow in the blistering summer heat. Turnips are best kept in the refrigerator, lasting up to two weeks. When purchasing, look for turnips that are firm and blemish free, with dark green or purple tops. The tops of turnips can be stored and cooked separately.

Vitamin A, C, and E are all present in turnips. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it is stored in the liver and later used in other parts of the body. A main function of Vitamin A is to prevent night blindness. Vitamin A helps to form pigments that allow the eyes to adjust to changes in light. Vitamin C, helps to protect the skin against sun damage.  Karen E. Burke, MD at Mount Sinai’s School of Medicine said that antioxidants like vitamin C helps the skin’s natural ability to repair, and protect itself. Vitamin E, is great for drying, frail winter hair. Vitamin E promotes healthy scalp tissues which further support healthy hair and stimulates growth capillaries, for long and strong hair.

Roasted Turnips from the Food Network

Ingredients:

  • Two pounds of turnips, cut into wedges
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Toss together turnips, butter, thyme sprigs, shallots oil oil and salt in pepper in a 14-by-9 inch baking sheet.
  3. Spread turnips evenly on sheet and roast until they begin to soften, for about 30 minutes.
About the Author Yael Ben-Chaim

Yael is a food-lover, interested in local food systems and farmers markets. Follow Yael's blog posts on farmer market produce, recipes, and nutrition information. Yael is an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Maryland Farmers Market Association and is developing a seasonal food education program for MDFMA.