Growing up in the South for part of my childhood, I was served a lot of turnip greens. They were braised along with the turnip root, which I disliked intensely. I would look at my family enthusiastically eating the turnip roots and wonder if I was adopted. Years later, I ate my first roasted turnips and it was as if I had tasted another vegetable entirely. Roasting is perfect for turnips. Their natural sweetness is brought to the fore, and the contrast between the caramelized exterior and moist interior is marvelous. Now I love turnip roots--if they are roasted.
As usual, there are strong opinions about turnip worthiness in my family. The majority position seems to be that only purple top turnips are worth eating. The turnips pictured above are the purple top variety, but I admit to eating delicious small white turnips on other occasions. I know that's heresy, but there you go. I've always been the real rebel in the family.
This recipe from Cook's Illustrated is very good, combining roasted garlic and shallots with the turnips. The recipe says it serves four, but I think that's a bit stingy. It barely served two people adequately at my dinner table. But vegetables are often the real star, not a side dish, at our meals. Roasted chicken and wilted watercress accompanied the turnips very nicely.
Roasted Turnips, Shallots, and Garlic with Rosemary
1 medium head garlic
1 1/2 pounds turnips or rutabagas, peeled and cut into 1 1/4-inch pieces
4 shallots , peeled
2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted, or vegetable or olive oil, or a combination
1 teaspoon dried rosemary (crumbled), or 1 teaspoon dried thyme, or 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary or thyme
ground black pepper
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. If roasting garlic cloves in skins, simply break head into individual cloves. If you wish to roast cloves out of skins, put whole, unpeeled head in a small saucepan with water to cover. Bring water to boil, then simmer to soften cloves and loosen skins, about 10 minutes. Drain and refresh garlic head under cold water. Separate cloves and peel.
2. Put vegetables (excluding garlic) into a roasting pan large enough to hold them without crowding. Toss vegetables with butter and/or oil, rosemary or thyme, and sprinkle with salt. Roast, stirring or shaking vegetables every 15 minutes for 30 minutes. Add garlic. Raise heat to 425 degrees and continue roasting until tender and evenly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with pepper; taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot or at room temperature.