What’s in Season: Turnips

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By The Paula Deen Test Kitchen

Here in the South, we love when turnips are in season, so that we can savor the subtle, smooth sweetness of their roots and spicy bitterness of their leaves.  While some of us gave up on turnips as children after tasting too many bland ones, fresh turnips are actually a flavorful, nutrient-packed, easy-storing, and versatile vegetable. 

Roots or Leaves? Both!
The roots are suitable to mash, slice paper-thin in salads just like a radish, or sauté with a little olive oil and light seasoning.  You can throw leaves in braises, chili, stew, and lasagna—anywhere you want pungent accents of colorful greenery—or simply cook them in the oven or stovetop with a little soy sauce, honey, lemon, stock, or spices. 

Time Travelin’ Turnips
Southerners have grown and prized turnips since the crop was introduced by early European settlers, but more recently turnips have made their way onto fine-dining menus nationwide with varieties like the small, sweet Hakurei of Japan.  In French cuisine, turnips have a long history of distinction and are often prepared with generous amounts of butter, cream, and cheeses to bring out their earthy, smooth flavor. 

How to Select
Turnips are most commonly round, sometimes pear or oblong, often with cream-colored smooth skin and crisp white flesh, though other colors are widely available. Like other fall harvest roots such as carrots, parsnips, and celeriac, they grow and store well in cold, dry climates.  Some grocery stores will sell turnips with the greens removed for longer shelf life. Look for unblemished, firm roots with deep green leaves, if available.  Store roots and leaves separately in plastic bags, removing excess air.  Leaves last about 4 days, while roots will last up to 3 weeks. 

How to Prepare
Wash your turnips thoroughly in a basin of cold water, or gently scrub them clean with a vegetable brush. You can peel your turnip roots as you would a carrot, if you prefer, but only peel the outermost layer. Separate the leaves from the root, and prepare according to your recipe. If you’re using the greens, remove the tougher stems from the leaves.

Paula’s got some great, Southern-style recipes for turnips as a stand-alone side or as a complement to other hearty ingredients like pork tenderloin or dumplings!

Your Turn for Turnips!
Tugboat Turnips
Pork Tenderloin with Root Vegetables
Turnip Mashed Potatoes
Turnip Greens with Cornmeal Dumplings

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Reader Comments:


Very excited to see this sight.

By Anonymous on July 25, 2013


My husband and I always liked turnips in a white sauce. We took a grocery bag to his family vacation one time. Most there said "we don't like turnips at all". When we made creamed turnips they scraped the pot clean and wanted more!

By Ginny S on April 23, 2013


Mama always loved turnips and greens but even as an adult I still could not make myself cook or eat them however, Age has mellowed me and I now love greens and believe it or not I am going to cook some of Paula's turnips. They look so good and I think I can do it. Wish me luck.

By Bobbiebaba@mecom on December 15, 2012


I just Love 'Paula Deen' cooking and cookware very happy customer for life

By Carol Holland on December 11, 2012


Watch your Show on FOOD NETWORK often. I'm also Type2 "onset" Diabetes. your frend...Mary Dixon..PS Don't check my Email very often.

By mary dixon on December 03, 2012


I love turnips in mustard greens, & fry turnips in butter, like French fries.

By denise on November 29, 2012

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love the table paula would look good on my new patio. so glad you are back. I hope to get there to see you in person one day.i will start tomorrow to find the patern form the tablecloth.
Gladys Rainesl in Savannah Style: A Spring Table for Two on April 13, 2014 at 7:45 pm

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in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 13, 2014 at 2:55 pm

I just love love love the table and flowers and am so glad that I can still access all of Paula's recipes, her family life, Bobby's lighter versions and Brandon's beautiful work. Truly thankful to see such beautiful tablescapes. You guys are my heros.
Patricia in Savannah Style: A Spring Table for Two on April 13, 2014 at 9:14 am