I feel like I should apologize. I started this blog with a recipe for homemade pretzels, which is a kid-friendly, fairly simple recipe, promised that I would share ways to prepare food that your kids will like, and then… I throw turnips at you. Turnips?! Is there a less kid-friendly vegetable than turnips?? But I assure you that I’m sharing this recipe after testing it on my kids. They LOVE it. And I’m feeling pretty confident that yours will, too. Maybe I should post a picture of the serving bowl after dinner to illustrate just how popular the dish was:
Although I have proclaimed it to be true many times, I did not fully realize until watching my kids devour a bowl of these Caramelized Turnips that almost any vegetable can be kid-friendly. It depends on how the vegetable is presented and how it is prepared. Thanks to one of my favorite food games, I didn’t have to “present” these turnips at all. Standing with my older son in front of a table at the farmers’ market last fall, the game went something like this:
Me: “I can’t decide what to get. You pick something.”
B: “Okay! Ummm…. those.”
He was pointing to a basket of purple and white globes. I cringed a little, raised an eyebrow at Farmer Chuck, and asked, “Those are… turnips, right?” To be perfectly honest, I had never had turnips. At least not that kind. But we managed to get them home, cooked and eaten without my children having the slightest clue that they happily ate one of the most despised, feared, and misunderstood vegetables on the planet.
We’ve had turnips several times since last fall, prepared a different way each time. When I returned to the farmers’ market this past weekend, I saw baskets and baskets of turnips (and not much else) on Farmer Chuck’s table and decided that this would be the week to share our little cruciferous secret. But I wanted to prepare them in the most kid-friendly way possible, while preserving this vegetable’s “turnipness.” Turnip chips? Yum, but not dinner table appropriate. Mashed turnips? Meh, too boring. Enter Heidi Swanson’s recipe for Golden-Crusted Brussels Sprouts. I used it as inspiration while coming up with this quick, yummy recipe. You’ll notice that in the top picture, the turnips are cut into wedges; next time, I think I’ll cut them into smaller cubes so that they don’t take as much time to steam (and don’t end up quite as deeply browned). Once they start to brown in the pan, they become slightly caramelized and crispy, while remaining tender inside. Topped with a liberal sprinkling of grated cheese (I used Parmesan, but whatever grate-able cheese you have on hand should work just fine) and some sea salt, they’re eerily similar to home fries.
So if you have spent much of your life in fear of having to eat turnips, I urge you to give your inner child a reassuring pat on the back and give this recipe a try. Your kids might even thank you for it.
This method of preparing vegetables can turn the most basic of veggies into a delicious indulgence. Try it with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, even potatoes. Adjust the cooking time accordingly.
3 medium to large turnips, trimmed and peeled deeply
2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Handful of grated Parmesan (or your favorite grated cheese)
In a large skillet, heat 1 tbs. oil over medium heat. Add turnips, then drizzle the remaining 1 tbs. olive oil and sprinkle some sea salt on top. Toss or stir to combine, then cover and let the turnips steam for about 5 minutes, until the sides that are touching the pan have just started to brown. Stick a fork into one piece to test for tenderness. If the insides have not finished steaming, place the cover back on the pan and cook for 2 more minutes.
When the turnips are sufficiently tender, uncover the pan and turn the heat up to medium-high. Once the bottoms of the turnips have turned brown and are crispy-looking, give the pan a shake (or a stir) to lightly brown the other sides. Transfer to a serving dish and top with freshly ground pepper, another sprinkling of sea salt, and Parmesan cheese. Serve right away.