Crop Spot: Turnips

In the dead of winter, we long for the abundance of summer gardens and farmers markets. While their bounty is hard to outshine, it is amazing to take stock of, and appreciate, how much variety is still available this time of year. Season extending techniques like hoophouses (aka high tunnels) allow us to have fresh tender greens, spinach, and cold sweetened carrots. We’re also able to find a wide range of storage vegetables: cabbage, beets, carrots, garlic, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, kohlrabi, and more! And don’t forget this month’s crop spotlight: the humble turnip.

The turnip is a member of the brassica family (kale, cauliflower, cabbage, rutabaga, etc.) is high in vitamin C (immune health, skin health) and is a great source of fiber (satiety, cholesterol lowering, healthy gut). You will most often find turnip roots bagged without the leaves (storage turnips) or tied together in a small bunch (fresh eating turnips). When selecting turnips, choose small to medium sized turnips that are free from soft spots.

Storage turnips have thicker skins which allow them to be stored, in the right conditions, for months at a time. These turnips come in a variety of colors (green, white with purple shoulders, yellow, and pure white) and are best peeled before using in soups, stews, or roasts. Thanks to season extending hoop houses, we also have soft, sweet, fresh turnip varieties available this time of year. These buttery turnips are perfect for thinly shaving on a fresh salad, eating raw with your favorite dip, or lightly sauteing with butter and salt.

Look for turnips at your local farmers market and then try one of these recipes:

Mashed Turnips

Adapted From All Recipes


2 large turnips, peeled and cubed
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup milk (can substitute vegetable broth)
3 Tb unsalted butter (or ghee)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Optional topping: fresh parsley (chopped)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

While oven is preheating, boil turnip and potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover them.  Cook 25 to 30 minutes, until tender. Remove from heat, and drain. Reserve some cooking water.

Add milk (or broth), 2 Tb butter (or ghee), salt, and paprika to the turnip and potatoes. Mash until slightly lumpy. If the mixture is too dry, add some of the reserved cooking water or more milk (broth).

Transfer the turnip mixture to a small baking dish. Dot with 1 Tb butter (ghee). Cover loosely with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove cover, and bake another 8 minutes, or until the mash is lightly browned.

Glazed Hakurei Turnips

Adapted from this Bon Appetit Recipe


3 bunches baby hakurei turnips, baby turnips, or red radishes (about 2 pounds), trimmed, greens reserved
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
Kosher salt


Place turnips in a large skillet; add water to cover turnips halfway. Add butter, sugar, and a large pinch of salt; bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is syrupy and turnips are tender, about 15 minutes. (If turnips are tender before liquid has reduced, use a slotted spoon to transfer turnips to a plate and reduce liquid until syrupy. Return turnips to pan and stir to coat well.) DO AHEAD: Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm before continuing.

Add turnip greens to skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until just wilted, 2–3 minutes. Season with salt.

Kelly Wilson, RDN, is the Director of Community Partners for Southeast Michigan. Find more local food recipes here. Contact her at [email protected].