Nothing to 'turnip' your nose about: How to incorporate root veggie in hearty dishes

November 27, 2012|By CHRIS COPLEY |
  • Turnip roots can be served in many dishes as potatoes would be used, such as in this au gratin.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

Editor's note: This is part of an occasional series of stories on children eating vegetables. The series explores ways to highlight vegetables' flavor and appearance as a way to work around the resistance some kids have to eating vegetables.

I've never been a big fan of turnips. Mainly, I just haven't eaten them much. I don't recall my mother serving them when I was a boy in central Ohio.

But when Thanksgiving rolled around last week and my wife put me in charge of mashed potatoes, she asked me to try something new: add turnips to the spuds and mash them together.

I'm usually game to at least try a new twist on a familiar recipe, and this turned out to be a good one. The bite of the turnips added a nudge of flavor to the mashed potatoes. Honestly, if I hadn't known there were turnips in the mashies, I might not have noticed them.

Turnips are a healthful food. They are low in calories, saturated fat and cholesterol. They are also a good source of vitamin B6, folate, calcium, potassium and copper, and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C and manganese.

Turnip greens are also edible and contain even more nutrients per cup than turnip roots. The greens can be served raw in mixed-greens salads or cooked like spinach.

The skin of turnip roots can be white, green or purplish, but when peeled, the flesh is white. Cookbook author Missy Chase Lapine prepares turnips for her children as she would potatoes. Lapine is known for her "Sneaky Chef" books. She suggests cooking and pureeing vegetables and adding them to foods kids love, such as chili, pancakes, meatballs or brownies.

"If you can make a meatball with eight hidden vegetables and two whole grains, why wouldn't you?" she said. "As long as it still tastes amazing."

Lapine said she mashes turnips — or other root veggies — with potatoes.

"I also cut up turnips into french fries. I do that with other root vegetables, too, and they become delicious," she said. "I serve them with ketchup, and call them turnip fries. Roast them on a high heat, so they get a little crisper."

She serves root-veggie fries with soy sauce or ketchup — anything to get kids to try them.

Lapine said the Sneaky Chef approach is about more than just hiding vegetables in kids' meals. She also wants kids to learn to accept vegetables as they are.

"When you serve Sneaky Chef style," she said, "always show the vegetable in its natural state."

Lapine's website, www.thesneaky, provides recipes and information about her approach to getting kids to try unfamiliar vegetables. The Sneaky Chef philosophy was Lapine's way of getting her children to eat healthfully. But she also wanted to reduce the stress over family dinners.

"It's all about having a good time — peace at the table," she said. "People don't learn under fire. It's hard for kids to want to eat something new when I'm coming at them with a forkful of broccoli."

Turnip fries

2 medium to large turnip roots

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 chili powder, optional

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel turnips and cut them into the shape of french fries.

Place them on a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, coriander and, if using, chili powder. Toss to coat well. Arrange turnip fries flat on the pan.

Roast for about 25 minutes or until turnips are tender.

Serve immediately with catsup or other dipping sauce.

— Recipe adapted by Chris Copley, Herald-Mail assistant Lifestyle editor

Turnips au gratin

1 1/2 pounds (4 medium to large) turnip roots

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon flour

3/4 cup milk

1 cup Cheddar cheese

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup bread crumbs, optional

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Slice turnips thinly and quarter slices.

Put salt and sugar in 1 quart water over medium heat. Cook turnips for 15 minutes or until fork tender. Drain.

In saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and blend. Gradually stir in milk until sauce thickens. Stir in cheese, pepper and nutmeg. Turn off heat.

Layer turnips in a 1 1/2-quart casserole and cover with the cheese sauce. Sprinkle with bread crumbs, if using.

Bake until brown, approximately 30 minutes.

— Recipe adapted by Chris Copley, Herald-Mail assistant Lifestyle editor

Turnip-and-potato mashies

2 medium turnips

6 medium potatoes

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Dash of hot sauce or chili powder

Without peeling, slice turnips and potatoes into 1/4-inch slices. Cook for 15 minutes in boiling water until fork tender. Drain.

Mash with potato masher or mixer, but do not overmash. Small chunks are OK.

Stir in remaining ingredients, taste and adjust seasoning.

— Recipe adapted by Chris Copley, Herald-Mail assistant Lifestyle editor

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