By Alysia Santo
Close cousin to another underappreciated vegetable, the lowly cabbage, turnips contain two phytochemicals, indoles and sulforophane, which researchers believe may offer cancer protection. After boiling, these white, bulbous vegetables with lovely, purplish tops contain about 30% of your daily dose of vitamin C in just one one cup serving. Another relative, the yellow rutabaga, boasts similar nutritional benefits.
Turnips deliver lots of insoluble fiber, which can help with digestion by keeping things moving. They also contain soluble fiber, a reducer of LDL cholesterol (the bad kind). Sweet or spicy, raw or roasted, these tubers’ versatility in the kitchen makes them a powerful tool to add complexity and richness to a dish while upping the nutrition content.
Valued for both their roots and their greens, raw turnips have an aggressive flavor that becomes milder through cooking. They add texture and heartiness to soups and stews, and become sweeter when roasted in the oven to make a hearty side dish that’s hard to beat.
Choose smaller turnips over larger ones. The small ones are a bit sweeter, the sweetest of all being the small, white Japanese turnips. Look for a smooth bulb with no soft spots and fresh, bright-green leaves on top. Store turnip greens and roots separately in plastic bags in the fridge’s crisper drawer for up to one week. The bitterness increases the longer turnips are stored.
Turnips can be eaten raw or cooked. Sweet Japanese turnips are your best bet for raw salads. As a side dish, cook and mash them with potatoes for a Scottish spin on mashed potatoes. Turnips make a great addition to hearty winter soups and stews. You can even make turnip fries — see our Oven Roasted Root Veggie Fries recipe. For a hearty main course try Cook For Your Life’s Basic Roast Chicken with Turnips and Garlic.