Five Spice Turnips

Turnips! (Just trying to psyche myself up here.) Er… Yum! Turnips! (Uh yeah, no. Let’s try again.) Woo-hoo!!! Turnips!

Really, does anyone get excited about turnips? When I saw these on the CSA packing list, fear struck– as much as I may love the CSA for introducing me to new produce and chances to experiment with cooking them, turnips just sound so unappealing. I searched around for ideas on how to cook turnips and came up with the usual ideas, that is, roast them or mash them. Meh. Then I went back to our CSA’s website to see what they might have to offer as far as recipe ideas and found a suggestion from Nigel Slater: saute the turnips in butter, add sherry, and fresh dill. Well, okay then. I could buy it that anything cooked in butter and booze has got to taste pretty darn good.

So I used that as a jumping off point. Why not add a third delicious “B”: bacon. I diced some bacon, cooked it in the pan until crisp, then removed most of the rendered fat from the pan. I then added some butter, and to add yet another “B” to this recipe, I browned the butter first. That way those peppery, earthy turnips would be coated in toasty, nutty, and sweet butter. Instead of sherry, I added a splash of Marsala wine along with a sprinkle of Chinese five spice powder. Sauteing alongside the turnips were some thin slices of sweet onion, chopped garlic scapes, the turnip greens and some rapini. I let the whole mix simmer until the turnip slices were firm yet translucent, before sprinkling back on the crispy bacon. John and I hesitantly took a bite– holy crap! These turnips were delicious! The five spice added a whiff of something exotic, pulling out the sweet yet spicy flavors of the Italian wine. The mustardy turnip greens and bitter rapini counter-balanced that sweetness and the bacon gave an underlying note of smoke not to mention a much needed contrast in texture to the softened vegetables. So let’s try that turnip psyche-up again, this time knowing that browned butter, bacon, and booze is involved: HURRAY!!!!! TURNIPS!!!!

  • 3 strips hickory smoked bacon, diced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 bunch Tokyo Cross turnips, tops removed and chopped, turnips halved lengthwise, then sliced into 1/4 inch thick half moons
  • 3 garlic scapes, chopped
  • 1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced into half moons
  • 2 tablespoons dry Marsala wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 bunch rapini, chopped

Add diced bacon to a medium-sized skillet and cook over medium heat until crisp, about 10-12 minutes. Remove bacon pieces to paper towel lined plate and discard all but 1 tablespoon of the rendered fat. Add the butter and cook until browned, stirring often (foam will subside, and butter will turn nutty brown color and smell heavenly), about 5-6 minutes. Add the turnips, garlic scapes, and sweet onion. Cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes then add the wine, brown sugar, five spice powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Continue cooking until turnips are shiny yet still firm and slightly brown around the edgest, about 18-20 minutes. Add the reserved, chopped turnip greens and chopped rapini, continuing to cook until greens have wilted, about another 5-7 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle on bacon and serve immediately.

CSA Count: 4

Tokyo Cross turnips (greens included), garlic scapes, sweet onion, rapini

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