Michigan in March with temperatures close to eighty – say what?! I haven’t had a chance to wear my cute furry boots – and now I’m thinking, where are my shorts. The grass is green, and flowers are blooming – should I be planting lettuce? I’m sure not complaining, but something’s not jiving.
The forecast says summer but my mindset’s in winter, as are the produce bins in local groceries; alas, local vegetables haven’t caught up with the weather. And there are wintry recipes unsung; hot soups to be made, slow braises to be simmered. But before I fling open my windows and fire up the grill, I present to you a swan song for root vegetables – winter’s steadfast nourishment – an ode to the turnip.
Outside of the American South, turnips are often snubbed and forgotten, much like a distant cousin you regret is blood kin. In literature, similes are drawn casting a disparaging shadow on characters with, for example, “…a bulbous nose, with purplish broken vessels resembling a turnip.” And if you do cook them, reluctant, with greens or in a soup, the smells may be reminiscent of bad hangovers and hardscrabble times.
But not so in France, where their peppery flavor and piquant aroma are relished in a variety of ways. I, too, adore the bittersweet flavor of turnips. So indulge me as I pause between winter and spring, to stuff the turnip with blue cheese and walnuts, giving her the star status she so desperately seeks, so richly deserves.
A favorite recipe site of mine, Citron et Vanille, is authored by Silvia, an inventive chef from France, who writes that she serves them roasted, braised and steamed with lavender salt, or stuffed in a myriad of ways. I saw this recipe on her site and couldn’t resist trying it. In her recipe she chose smaller turnips, which are sweeter and less bitter than her big sisters that I selected. But I’ve always been one who appreciates the taciturn dinner guest who injects irony, balancing humor, into conversation.
Still haven’t convinced you to give turnips another try? Having developed a thick skin through centuries of being an outcast, she’s OK with that. Substitute the turnip for an onion or beet and you’ll still have a fine meal.
This recipe was inspired by a recipe for Turnips stuffed with Roquefort and Walnuts on the web site, Citron et Vanille. In my rendition I substituted Gorgonzola for Roquefort, omitted the chopped onions and used 3 large turnips instead of 6 medium-sized.