Turnips have a terrible reputation and are often overlooked. However, cook them the right way – they are an absolute treat! I wanted to create a dish that puts them in the centre stage, and this recipe does exactly that. Their flavour and texture is perfectly contrasted with sauteed leeks and little bursts of sweetness from the peas, all coming together with butter and tarragon.
There are two categories of turnip – baby turnips, which have a sweet and delicate flavour, and larger turnips, which are more peppery. Turnips grow really well in the UK and peak season for larger turnips is October to February, whilst baby turnips are more prevalent in summer.
I like this recipe made with the winter turnips. The pepperiness and texture contrasts really well with the other vegetables. Obviously the peas will not be in season, but frozen peas are wonderful things, often stacked with more nutrients than fresh peas.
The cooking method
There is often little creation of what to do with turnips! They are great in creamy sauces, such as in gratin. Some people mash them but in my opinion, Nigel Slater suggests the best way of cooking them. That is, par-boiling small pieces of turnip for 10 minutes to soften them to a good texture, prior to placing them in a pan with a wedge of melted butter and a spoonful of sugar to coat the exterior. Heated for a while like this they turn a beautiful golden brown with such a sweet exterior and a peppery interior. This is exactly how I cook them in this recipe. Then they are combined with sauteed leeks (in butter) and defrosted frozen peas. Fresh tarragon leaves are chopped and stirred into the vegetables to bring it all together.
Serve it with
I eat this on its own, but if you want something more substantial, serve with rice or grains. If you are trying to lower carbs, top it with a fried egg.
If you want something with turnips that is a little simpler to cook but with equally delicious flavour, try this turnip, lentil and lemon soup. It’s a really well balanced, comforting, yet fresh soup and it takes less than 30 minutes to cook.
Sweet and buttery turnip with leeks, peas and tarragon
- 2 saucepans
- 3 medium turnips
- 30 g butter
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 leek
- 150 g peas
- 20 g tarragon
- Peel and chop the turnip into bite size pieces. Cook them in boiling water for 10 minutes.3 medium turnips
- Defrost the peas in warm water.150 g peas
- Melt 20 g of butter in a pan and place in the drained turnips with a tbsp of sugar. Shake the pan every now and again until the turnips are glazed and begining to brown.3 medium turnips, 1 tbsp sugar, 30 g butter
- At the same time as glazing the turnips, melt 10 g of butter in another pan and sautee the leeks until they soften and fall apart. Add the drained defrosted peas and stir until warmed through.1 leek, 150 g peas
- Add the turnips to the leek and peas and stir through the chopped tarragon.3 medium turnips, 20 g tarragon
- I eat this as it is but if you want something more filling, serve with some rice or grains. If you're avoiding carbs, top it with a fried egg.