Getting Back to Roots: Turnips


 Jackie, The Vegan Diet – The only way I ever had turnips as a child was the root in soup, overcooked and tasteless. It is only in the last few years I have learnt to enjoy turnips and their leaves as a veggie side dish and serving the root raw in salads.  (Read on for recipe ideas)

Thousand of years ago turnips were very popular in the Middle East and Europe up until the discovery of potatoes when they became less popular. The turnip greens (leaves) became part of African-American cooking when they were slaves and have remained so up until today and have also become part of Southern cooking. It is a member of the Brassicaceae Family, it is related to broccoli and radishes.

Turnips with their greens are an excellent source of dietary fiber, folate, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, tryptophan, plus vitamins A, B6, C,E, K. They also contain a good source of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, omega_3 and phosphorus. The leaves have a much higher concentration of the nutrients than the root and are and excellent source of beta-carotine.

Turnip Greens contain more calcium than milk and turnip juice has more vitamin C than orange juice. The juice should not be drunk on it's own but mixed with other vegetable juices like carrot.

They are are loaded with disease-preventing phytochemicals and antioxidants. Excellent for clearing lung congestion, improving circulation, alkalizing, colon health, building up the blood, prevention of rheumatoid arthritis, relieving baldder and liver complaints, and to improve energy levels. They are also an excellent slimming food.

Warning: Due to turnip greens containing oxalates, individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems should eat them sparingly. They also contain goitrogens so individuals with thyroid problems should also only eat them occasionally.

To relieve a sore throat, sprinkle grated turnip with brown sugar and when the juice runs out sip a teaspoonful of the juice. For those with excessive underarm odor, turnip juice applied to washed and dried armpits will relive the problem for up to 10 hours.

As with any vegetable it is best to purchase the organic variety if available or to grow them yourself. The small variety of turnips now available are especially nice to steam or eat raw as they have a much sweeter flavor. Store the turnips and their leaves seperately. Turnips last up to three weeks in the refrigerator and the leaves for a few days.

To prepare, you can either scrub the turnips with a vegetable brush or peel them. Wash the leaves well to remove any grit. They can be boiled, steamed, roasted, stir-fried or added to stews and soups. They can be eaten whole, chopped, grated, mashed and pureed. Some even love to eat them as oven crisps, by shaking thin slices in a bag with a little cold-pressed oil, and baking them on a tray in the oven until crisp. Like potato, turnips can be added to over salted soups to neutralize the excessive salty taste.

Whether you are adding them to soup or to coleslaw, whatever the season, add a bunch of tasty turnips to your shopping basket.

Roasted Turnips with Maple-Mustard Glaze
From The Vegan Chef (Great recipes on this site, do visit)

4 lbs (approx 2kg) turnips, peeled, and cut into 1-inch wedges
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 tbsps coarse-grain brown mustard
2 tbsps sunflower oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

In a large pot, place the turnips, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Cook the turnips in boiling water for 5 minutes to soften. Drain well and set aside. Lightly oil (or spray with a light mist of oil) a large baking dish and set aside. In a saucepan, place the maple syrup, mustard, sunflower oil, toasted sesame oil, salt, and pepper, and simmer over low heat for 3 minutes to blend the flavors. Place the drained turnips in the prepared baking dish, pour the warm maple-mustard mixture over the turnips, and sprinkle with the fresh thyme. Bake at 350 degrees, basting the turnips with the sauce every 20-30 minutes to evenly coat them, and bake for 1-1 1/2 hours or until they are golden brown and very tender. Serves 8-10

Salade Egyptienne
From Around the Word Recipe E-Book

3 firm almost ripe tomatoes,cut into cubes
3 young cucumbers,not peeled and cut,into cubes
3 large sweet green peppers,cored,seeded and chopped
6 scallion or spring onions,sliced thin
1 cup cabbage,shredded
4-6 small white turnips, peeled and cut into cubes
4 cloves garlic,chopped finely
1/2 cup fresh parsley,chopped
1/2 cup fresh coriander,chopped
1/2 cup fresh dill,chopped
1 tsp coriander,Ground
1/2 tsp cuminseed,Ground
1 tbsp cold-pressed oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
Juice of one lemon
1/4 tsp hot red chili flakes

All vegetables, with exception of cabbage are cut to same size and combined with an assortment of fresh herbs. In large bowl, mix tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, scallions,cabbage, turnips (if desired), garlic, parsley, coriander, dill, ground coriander, and ground cuminseed together. Toss several times.Set aside. Just before serving, mix oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and chili flakes thoroughly. Add sauce to vegetables. Toss well to integrate all seasonings. Serbes 2-4

Baby Turnip and Apple Salad

A simple but tasty salad can be made with chopped or grated baby turnips and apples, tossed with salad dressing or Vegan mayonnaise.

Japanese Quick Turnip Pickles (Kabu No Sokuseki-Zuke)
From YaGottaHaveIt!

12 medium turnips
5 heaping tbsps sea salt
4 (10cms/4 inches) piece giant kelp (konbu)
1 (2 1/2cms/1 inch) square yuzu citron or lemon rind

An example of 'instant' salt pickling. It takes only an hour for these pickles to ripen, and they will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for the better part of a week. Also appropriate for cucumber sliced in thin wafers. Peel and seed large cucumbers.

To prepare: Cut off greens from turnips and reserve. Wash turnips, peel, then cut into very fine julienne strips. Wash greens, dry, then chop finely. Put turnip strips with finely chopped greens into a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Table salt is fine. Knead with your hands and mix thoroughly to draw water out of vegetable. In less than a minute, a fair amount of liquid will be produced. Discard this liquid. Add the konbu and the square of yuzu citron or lemon rind. Let stand, lidded and with a light weight, for 1 hour at room temperature.
To serve: Pick out a portion from the bowl with chopsticks or fork and shake off liquid.Arrange in a mound on individual pickle dish. You may season with a few drops of soy sauce, if desired.
NOTE: The 'lidded and with a light weight' refers to making them in a Japanese pickle tub. A plate with a small rock in a nonreactive pan will do.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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