Turnips. Why not give them a try?

The best turnips are those that are available fall through spring. When I was at the Farmers’ Market on Sunday they had beautiful bunches of young turnips with their bright green tops and they had some like this one with their tops cut off. When buying topless turnips be sure to feel for firmness and look for freshness where their tops were chopped off. Fresh young turnips have only a mild suggestion of the heat associated with some of their cousins in the mustard family, such as radishes or rocket. The tops of young turnips are tender enough to steam or stir-fry and contain large amounts of vitamin A and especially large amounts of lutein, which has been shown to help prevent cataracts and cardiovascular disease. The turnips themselves are a good low calorie source of vitamin C and fiber.

Turnips can be roasted with other vegetables, such as carrots, celery root, and parsnips, their flavor adding balance. Another great way to prepare them is in a gratin or you can combine them with celery root and potatoes for a mash. Probably the most traditional way to use turnips is in stews and soups like the recipe I posted in November for Turkey pot a feu.

While researching, I came across this nice little recipe from Chez Panisse Vegetables, by Alice Waters. It sounded just perfect since I had all the ingredients on hand.

The gratin is rich, creamy and very good. I think I’ll add some garlic next time and there will be a next time for this recipe.

Turnip and Potato Gratin

5 medium Yellow Finn or russet potatoes

10 medium turnips


Salt and pepper

2 cups heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Peel and slice the potatoes ¼ inch thick, with a knife or on a mandolin, and put them in a bowl of cold water to prevent them from discoloring.

Peel the turnips if their skin is tough and slice them ¼ inch thick. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9 x 12-inch backing dish. Drain the potatoes and pat them dry. Layer the potatoes and turnips alternately in the baking dish, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper. Pour in enough of the cream, or half and half chicken stock, to barely cover the vegetables. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes. Rotate the dish for even browning.

Serves 6 to 8

What to shop for at the Farmers’ Market:


Yellow Finn or russet potatoes


28 thoughts on “Turnips. Why not give them a try?

  1. funny how food can rate such great revues. who would have thought that turnips could get such replies; brings out all our old dark secrets. but just like anything that is so contraversational, everyone has their own thoughts. my wife made a meal last night that was out of this world, absolutely the best that we have discovered in a long time. when i get her recipe, i will tell your readers about it. it is too good to pass up.

  2. Turnips? Tried ’em, hated ’em, don’t need to try ’em again.

    My dad was a chef. He made a killer beef stew that I loved, excepts for the chunks of turnip that he put in it. When we had it for dinner I’d eat the first bowl leaving the turnips in a pile at the side, then get up with the bowl and go in the kitchen for seconds. I’d then flip all the turnips back into the pot. Never ate the stew the second day…..too many turnips in it.

  3. I too just found your blog from home page. Soul food….lol…turnips a must…. I rinse and chop the greens and peel the root {turnip} and cube about the size of dice…and place all in a pot with top add water to cover and add either smoke pork or turkey neck bone. Salt, pepper and garlic to taste. {although you may want to put neck bone in the water to simmer until you see or can smell the smoke flavor before adding greens and turnip that way the broth will soak into the turnips better}. once all cooking together… cover on med low until turnip cubes are tender. You can add hot sauce to taste. Serve with buttermilk corn bread….like a meal in South Heaven!….lol….. Lila

  4. I found your blog from the wordpress home page today. I JUST planted turnips this week and I was so glad to see your blog!
    Look forward to seeing more of what you write! Nadia

    • Thanks Nadia.
      Still too early here to plant. Another month at least, then probably just starting some seeds in the house. Hope you’ll try the recipe when it’s turnip harvest time.

  5. I happen to really enjoy turnips, especially in their Canton cuisine incarnations like turnip cake for dim sum!

    I tried my hand at the gratin, except I messed it up – oh well, next time.

    • Oh, I’m so sorry it didn’t turn out. Don’t give up, it really is a great recipe. I’ll have to do a little research on turnip cake. I really like dim sum but don’t remember hearing about turnip cake. See, you learn something new every day. At least I do. Thanks for the note.

    • Hi Ronda
      Looked at your work and it’s delicious. As you can tell from my blog I love photography. Shoot me a note on how you roasted your turnips. Did you mix them with other veggies. I’m always interested in how other folks cook. Try the gratin. It’s easy and soooooooooo good. Having the leftovers tonight.

  6. we love rutabagas that are in the turnip family. we usually just have them at special holidays , but after cutting them into smaller pieces , which in itself is a feat, boil them and add butter to them at the finish-one delicious veggie !

    • I wonder if you couldn’t try some in this recipe. That’s an interesting thought I might have to follow up on. I use rutabagas in soup and stews and really like them, will have to try them your way.

    • Hi Mike,
      I had my doubts too, but believe me there was no strong turnip taste. It was easy and you can prepare any amount, just use equal amounts of turnip and potato. I bet you’ll like it.

  7. I must admit I’m not the biggest fan of turnips, but that dish does look quite appetizing and one I’ll definitley try. Now parsnips, roasted, can’t get enough of them! 🙂

    Thanks for the recipe.

    • I admit that I’m not the biggest fan of turnips either, but lately I have been trying new things and experiment with foods I usually avoid. It’s been a great experience, not that I always love what I try but I do love that at least I gave it a try. If you do try it, let me know what you think.

      • Hi Annie,

        I made it last night. I couldn’t find russet potatoes here in Mexico (seems like they just have one type of spud here), but anyway it turned out great. Easy to make and very tasty!

        Thanks again!

  8. yay! i love recipes using fresh veggies! and i’m so glad i found your blog. what a gem! i’m gonna add you to my blog roll, little lady! 😉 wendy

    • Hi Wendy
      Thanks for adding me to your blog roll. As you can see I love fresh veggies and don’t really eat any other kind. If you have any recipes you want to share pop me a message. I would love to share it on my blog.

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