Turnips and radishes are the earliest ‘hearty’ vegetables at market
Spring turnips have arrived! This is exciting in my house, as we love to include turnips in almost every meal. Sautéed in bacon grease and then added to morning eggs is a wonderful way to get in those extra veggies. It’s easy to sneak this mildly peppery root vegetable into many dishes and my young eaters have no idea they’re getting the extra goodness. No pasta sauce or baked dish gets made without turnips this time of year.
The spring turnip is the young version of its larger fall form, and tastes delicious raw or cooked. This versatile vegetable can be boiled and mixed into mashed potatoes to create great flavor. I add spring turnips to soups and even sloppy joes.
Radishes are the other root vegetable to appear early in the season. The spicy red balls are a staple in supper club relish trays, but finding different ways to enjoy this spring vegetable can be a challenge. My go-to favorite is the simple French sandwich: thinly sliced raw radishes on a crusty slice of bread with lots of butter and sprinkle of salt. And a simple salad of sliced radishes tossed with white wine vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic, oregano, fennel or caraway makes radishes the star.
Turnip and radish greens also are tasty, and welcome in spring when we’re starving for fresh greens. They’re a bit strong, and best mixed with lettuce and other greens, or braised for pasta and soups. Immediately remove the greens and store separately. The roots last several weeks in the refrigerator, but the greens (even higher in nutrients like vitamin C) should be used within a day or two.
Try cooking spring turnips and radishes. Last weekend my roasted radish crisps were a big hit: Thinly slice radishes and turnips with a mandolin, toss with olive oil and salt, and spread them out on a backing sheet. Roast at 450° for 10-12 minutes, watching carefully to avoid burning.
Radishes and turnips can be roasted like other vegetables, and the caramelization compliments the meatiness of these roots. Slice them in half, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and thyme or rosemary. Roast at 450° for 10-12 minutes. Roasting takes the bite out of radishes, so if you’re not fond of them raw, try them this way.
Now open: Wausau Farmers Market on River Drive runs Saturdays and Wednesdays 7 am–sold out • The Weston market at Schofield Ave. and Camp Philips Road runs Saturdays and Tuesdays 8 am-sold out. • The Mosinee market at River Park runs Tuesdays noon–sold out starting June 6 • The Stevens Point downtown market reliably has vendors on Saturday morning currently, but daily later in the season • Other markets in the area open in early- or mid-June.
Spring Turnips & White Bean Salad
This recipe using turnips and their greens was a hit over Memorial Day weekend. The salad
could be plated individually, but I chose to arrange it all on a platter. When plating I added fresh spinach to help soak up the dressing. This recipe is adapted from Serious Eats.
1 lb. spring turnips, greens washed and chopped into ribbons. Chop the turnips into 3/4″ pieces
1 cup white beans, canned or cooked
3 hardboiled eggs, sliced
4 strips cooked bacon, diced
1 Tbsp. honey
½ tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Juice of one lime
¼ cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
¼ cup fresh herbs: chives, parsley, cilantro, etc.
Toss the turnip greens in 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar and 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Cover and let marinate for at least 2 hours.
Boil turnips in salted water until soft with a fork prick. Drain and cool. Meanwhile, make the dressing: Dissolve salt and honey in vinegar, whisk in oil, then buttermilk or yogurt to thicken. Toss with the drained white beans and herbs. Taste to adjust seasonings.
Spread the turnip greens on a plate and top with the turnips, bacon, eggs and dressed beans.