If you’ve run out of ways to prepare starches like corn, potatoes or rice to serve as side dishes, you might want to try turnips. We have Charles “Turnip” Townshend to thank for elevating turnips to the dinner table. England was formally introduced to turnips when Townshend, a British politician, imported Dutch-grown turnips in 1730.
Townshend wanted to use turnips as an inexpensive substitute for the hay that was used to sustain cattle herds throughout the winter. In those days, it was expensive to grow and store hay all winter. To save money, many people killed their livestock in the fall, causing an overabundance of beef at one time. Townshend proved that turnips were an easy-to-grow, inexpensive way for farmers to fatten cattle through the winter.
Although turnips contain a large amount of starch, they provide only one third the calories as an equal amount of potatoes. Turnips are an excellent source of vitamins C, B-6 and E, fiber, folic acid, manganese, potassium and riboflavin.
Turnips are a member of the mustard family and are related to cabbage and cauliflower. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors. For the sweetest flavor, select turnips that are smooth, small, firm and heavy for their size, with some roots remaining on the bottom.
Turnips can be peeled before cooking, eaten raw, sliced, made into a relish or a slaw, diced or julienned, or shredded to make croquettes. Turnips also can be used as a substitute for potatoes in many of your favorite recipes.
Honey-Ginger Glazed Turnips
2 pounds turnips
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon pepper
Step 1. Wash and peel turnips and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices, then halve or quarter the slices. In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the turnips for 8 minutes or just until tender. Drain the turnips and stir in butter. Cook over high heat, shaking pan often, for 1 minute or until the turnips are coated with the butter.
Step 2. Stir in honey, ginger, soy sauce and pepper to taste; cook, stirring often, for 1 minute or until glazed. Serve immediately. Serves 4.