Turnips are another of those little-known, little-grown and little-loved vegetables. And that is a shame. Because like broccoli rabe, they are undemanding, fast growing and can be harvested early in the year. I am now specifically talking about the small white turnips that can be sown as soon as the ground warms up (I sow them around mid-March), preferably under fleece, if the weather is as cold as this year. I grow the somewhat flattened old Dutch variety very descriptively called “Platte Witte meiraapjes” (or “Flat White May-turnips”). The Dutch name “meiraap” (May-turnip) somewhat optimistically anticipates a harvest in May. The main harvest from an early sowing falls in June, but with the protection of fleece we usually get to harvest a couple of tiny turnips at the end of May.
These little babies are nothing like turnips from winter storage – they are flavourful and juicy like apples. And such beautiful produce is better not messed with, all that is needed is a little olive oil, vinegar and a sprinkling of herbs and 20 minutes in a hot oven. Instead of sage, you could use rosemary or thyme, they will all work.
P.S. Our cutting garden is in full bloom, so here’s a little bouquet for you too:
Roasted turnips with sage
900 g (2 pounds) small turnips
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
20 leaves of fresh sage, tear large leaves in smaller pieces
30 g butter
Preheat the oven to 210 degrees Celsius (425 Fahrenheit)
If the turnips are really small (golf ball sized), leave them whole and unpeeled. If they are bigger, peel them and halve or quarter them depending on their size.
Boil them for about 5 minutes in salted boiling water, then drain them and place them in an ovenproof dish. Add the oil, vinegar and sage, seasons with salt and pepper, then toss everything together. Divide the butter in pieces on top.
Cook the turnips until golden, about 20 minutes.