The Washington Post

Turnip side down: Nose-to-tail cooking for veggies

Turnips are currently available at farmers markets around the area. (Edward Schneider for The Washington Post)

And that is how I cooked them on a recent market day, but with the idea of serving them together, following the unimpeachable logic of nose-to-tail (or root-to-leaf) turnip eating.

The greens I cooked in advance: In a big pan, I rendered some thinly sliced guanciale, and in the resulting fat (supplemented with olive oil), I sweated two cloves of garlic, sliced, and some chili flakes (actually half a small crushed chipotle, whose smokiness can add an extra dimension, no matter what the cuisine). After cutting the turnip tops in half and rinsing them thoroughly — but draining them imperfectly, leaving some water to cook them in — I packed them into the pan, added salt and covered the pan until the greens had begun to wilt. A few minutes later, they were done — thoroughly cooked, with the stems retaining a little crunch. I set them aside to cool.

Ed Schneider promotes "whole plant" cooking with his dish of turnips served with their own greens. (Edward Schneider for The Washington Post)

At serving time, I reheated the greens and served them dotted with the glazed turnips. On this occasion, the turnips and greens accompanied monkfish fillets, sprinkled with salt and a spice mix including Spanish smoked paprika (pimenton), smeared with Dijon mustard and roasted for maybe nine minutes in a 450-degree oven.

This all worked well together: Serving the whole turnip at once made perfect sense (there were leftover greens for our annual turnip-top pasta, too), and the fish’s mustard coating connected with the mustardy undercurrent in the vegetable, which botanically speaking is indeed in the mustard family.

Ramps, asparagus, spring onions and now turnips. Winter is way behind us!

Further reading:

* Market Roundup: May 24-30


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