Look below for more information about turnips including: health benefits, general cooking tips, and recipes that call for root vegetables like turnips.
Turnips aren’t blessed with the vibrant crimson flesh of the beet root or the slightly sweet flavor of the rutabaga, but give this humble root a shot in recipes that call for root vegetables. Roasting brings out the sweetness of earthy root veggies, but turnips have their own unique peppery flavor that is similar to spring and fall radishes. Once you get through the gnarly exterior, turnip flesh is crisp and juicy and can be enjoyed raw or cooked. Turnips are a cold weather crop and its thick skin is ideal for storage overwinter, so you will commonly see turnips at the market from October to May.
- Turnips absorb a variety of minerals from the soil as they grow underground, including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, iron, copper, magnesium and zinc. Although boiling is a common cooking method for root vegetables like turnips and beets, many beneficial minerals are leeched into the cooking water when they roots are boiled. Try roasting, steaming, or eating them raw to get all of the nutritional benefit from these hearty roots.
- Turnips are an excellent source of Vitamin C. One cup of turnips, raw or roasted, contains nearly 50% of the recommended daily allowance for Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps the body to combat the harmful effects of stress and illness.
- To store, cut off the turnip greens, if they come attached to the root, and refrigerate turnips, unwashed in a loosely tied plastic bag.
- If turnips come with turnip greens attached, use the greens within a few days because they will go bad much more quickly than the roots. Turnip greens cook up just like other cooking greens like collard greens or kale, but they are slightly spicy in flavor, like mustard greens.
- Turnip greens are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins, like Vitamin K and Vitamin A. Omega-3 fatty acids are commonly found in animal foods like cold water fish and are also found in some nuts and seeds, so adding some dark leafy greens to your diet can boost the anti-inflammatory effect of Omega-3 fatty acids!
- Turnips are a root vegetable, so be sure to wash well under running water or scrub with a vegetable brush. The turnip skins are packed with minerals that the turnip absorbs from the soil while it is growing, so leave the skin on for more fiber and nutrition. However, they can also be easily peeled using a vegetable peeler or with a sharp paring knife for a slightly less bitter flavor.
Turnips are an incredibly versatile vegetable. They can be eaten raw, boiled or steamed, sautéed or even roasted.
Eat them Raw!
Slice turnips thinly and add to salads for a little extra crunch. Cut into thick matchsticks and serve alongside carrot and celery sticks as part of a vegetable tray. Or “quick-pickle” turnips by tossing one cup of diced turnips with 4 Tablespoons vinegar, ¼ teaspoon sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt. Add quick-pickled turnips to fried rice or miso soup.
Wash and scrub turnips. Cut into ½-inch cubes. Toss with cooking oil (try canola, sunflower, or olive oil), salt and pepper and roast in a 375˚ oven for 20-30 minutes or until soft. Roasting brings out the earthy sweetness of turnips, so try roasting for less-adventurous eaters. Try out this recipe:
Roasted Root Vegetables
This recipe works with any combination of root vegetables: potatoes (red, white, or sweet), carrots, rutabagas, beets (red, yellow, or bulls-eye), or turnips. Or try making a large batch with a combination of all these roots!
- 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 potatoes, chopped
- 2 turnips, chopped
- 2 onions, chopped
- ¼ cup cooking oil
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- Preheat oven to 425˚.
- Combine carrots, potatoes, turnips, and onions in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with cooking oil.
- Spread vegetables on a roasting pan or cookie sheet with a lip (so oil doesn’t spill into the oven).
- Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring the vegetables every 20 minutes to make sure that onions do not burn and so that all sides of the chopped vegetables get golden and toasty.
- Remove from the oven and allow the roots to cool for a minute before serving. Try tossing the roasted roots with fresh (or dried herbs) or minced garlic for a kick of flavor.
So then, what is a rutabaga?
Rutabagas and turnips look an awful lot alike. In fact, they are cousins from the same family of vegetables (known as brassicas). However, rutabagas are actually a cross between a turnip and a cabbage. Although there are many varieties of turnips, most have white skin or white skin with a ring of purple where the leaves grow out of the root. The flesh of turnips is generally snow white. Rutabagas, on the other hand, have yellow skin with a hint of purple and yellow flesh that tastes sweeter than that of turnips. Rutabagas are also allowed to grow to a larger size in the field, so turnips tend to be smaller. So don’t be fooled by a turnip in disguise, more than likely, it’s just a turnip!