What’s happening where you are? My story this time begins with turnips. Yes, this wildly underrated root veggie has easily taken the spotlight in our kitchen the past couple of months and my creativity was put to the test. CSA boxes are sort of the ‘Chopped‘ of the everyday kitchen world, but the catch is it’s all produce and the only time limit on creating a delicious recipe is the shelf life of what’s inside the box. Now, after trying a few different things with this hunky root, what sounded most delicious one afternoon was fries. After perusing a few Pinterest boards to figure out what other people have done with their turnips, I found some that suggested making fries. As none of the recipes I came across suited me, and I’m not much for deep-frying anything, I decided to tweak a recipe I use for crispy baked yams and apply it to turnips!
A bit of turnip history for you all; did you know that turnips have been around for about 4000 years? Their original purpose was less for mastication and more for well, throwing at those you didn’t like. Glad that’s no longer a popular practice!
Turnips are part of the Cruciferae family of vegetables, and this does mean they could lend to a more gaseous evening, so I would recommend a digestive enzyme before consumption and lighting a sweet-smelling lit candle. I don’t mean to be gross or crude, but I think it’s only fair that you know what you’re getting yourself into. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s a given you’ll have a tummy-taming evening, but knowledge is power my friends.
When my husband and I committed to buying shares in a farm, it was our hesitation initially that we would end up with more produce than we could use. There are only two of us and, though we have voracious appetites, often times our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. However, once we began to understand what it meant to buy directly from a farmer who was producing organic, delicious, and fresh produce, all of our doubts peeled away. There were excessive patches, like our summer boxes which were overflowing with small, sweet peppers and some spicy peppers. It became hard to keep up, but the great part was I started to get more inventive, and that’s where the turnips come in. At any farm, some fruits and vegetables are in abundance and because turnips are often the food of farm raised animals, we lucked into an abundance as well. The trick… not wasting anything. We’ve certainly had our guilty weeks, where no matter how much I shared or prepared, we just weren’t able to go through it all, but I’m trying harder everyday to get better about not wasting precious produce. We’re very fortunate to have such delicious noms at our fingertips, and anything I can do to utilize these goodies I will do. Quick fact about food waste; America wastes 3,000 lbs of food every second. If you’d like to learn more about food waste, here’s a link to the website of an eye-opening documentary that focuses on just this topic. Dive! The Film
Are some of you still a little turned off by the idea of even messing with turnips? After taking many nutrition courses and my memory of learning about foods growing up, the benefit of assorted veggies and fruits was often a topic, but turnips never landed in that list of ‘go to’ veggies for a dense nutritional fix. Though not the most obvious choice for a nutritionally full snack, they have more to offer than you would imagine. Turnips, though a starch vegetable, are lower in calories than potatoes and are packed with vitamin C, which helps with our immunity and, just as important, tissue repair–this helps in the healing and aging process. Often overlooked as a source of vitamin C, just a cup of turnips can help fulfill daily requirements. Additionally, turnips contain a range of B vitamins which aid in protein and carbohydrate metabolism that’s key for having quality digestion and absorption. B vitamins also help in creating quality skin, hair and liver health. And who doesn’t want healthy skin? These are just a couple of the nutrients that help to make the turnip the amazing veggie it is.
Crispy Turnip Sticks
- 1 large turnip (regular variety), peeled in rough areas
- 2 to 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 – 1 tsp onion granules
- 1/2 – 1 tsp garlic granules
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- two shakes freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp Himalayan sea salt
- 1/4 cup cornmeal (non-gmo)
- Preheat oven to 425ºF
- After rinsing and pealing rough areas of turnip, slice it in half and then make 1/8” sticks (julienne)
- Grab a medium sized mixing bowl, place turnip sticks inside and sprinkle all ingredients on top, then drizzle the oil
- Toss together turnip sticks and spices until everything is nicely coated
- Arrange each stick on baking sheets in fine rows keeping each fry about a 1/4 inch or more from the next (we’re not trying to steak or roast this buddies, we want them crispy)
- Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy
- Enjoy crunchin’!
- Try with dried thyme or cayenne for a kick; note, a bit of thyme goes a long way
A quick note on a couple of ingredients. Turnips have a mild bitter flavor to them, and because of this I chose smoked paprika, which has a savory and sweet flavor to balance out the bitterness of the turnip. Thyme is one of my favorite herbs and it has a pungency that matches well with turnips. I recommend trying this when you make your first batch.
Overall, these crispies have been one our fave snacks lately and have easily become a comfort food this winter. We like to enjoy them with veggie burgers and black-eyed pea salad sandwiches. I hope you enjoy experiencing this recipe, I would love to hear your thoughts. And remember…bite responsibly!
Check out more kitchen letters here!