When I see turnips, I think of working at Chez Panisse. For the first month, I was on the veg section and it was my job to cook to order each and every glazed spring vegetables which accompanied the main course. The selection of baby spring vegetables was a thing for beauty. We did not ever get to see vegetables that came anywhere close to these ones in California. Baby beetroot in a rainbow of colours, tiny fresh peas and beans, purple and yellow baby carrots, deep red spring onions and these pretty pink topped turnips. It was my job to prep all these vegetables with utmost care and cook them to perfection. Each vegetable was added at a different time to the pan, to allow for different cooking times. It did all seem a bit of a fuss, about something that seemed so easy, but it was there that I learnt that sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to do really well and I have to admit, the vegetables were absolutely delicious.
So, I was a little apprehensive about cooking the beautiful purple tinged turnips that turned up in my box this week. Did I still have the touch – 25 years later, to cook a perfect turnip?
Bunch of smallish turnips
Large pinch of salt
Large pinch of sugar
Large knob of butter.
To prep the turnips, trim the stalks short but leave attached. With a small paring knife, scrape around the leaves to remove any dirt or grit. Rinse. Peel the turnip downwards to the bottom, from where the purple tinging ends and gives way to white. Cut into even sized pieces through the stalk – either halves, quarters, sixths or eights depending on size. Place in a heavy bottomed saucepan which allows them to roughly just cover the bottom of the pan. Nearly cover with water and add the salt and sugar. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat so that they boil away gently for about 5-10 minutes, depending on their size. A sharp knife should just insert easily. By this time to water should have nearly boiled away. Add the butter and reduce to a glaze. This should take about a minute. Taste and check for seasoning. Eat straight away.