24 ways with harukei turnips

by Market CSA member Denise Graveline

I used to love Mark Bittman's "summer express" recipes, where he'd write 101 easy, 10-minutes or less recipes you could make in summer. But what I loved most were how short they were. Hardly a recipe at all, making them seem even easier.

I want to apply that standard to recipes for harukei turnips, the vegetable that is perhaps most misunderstood on the Owl's Nest CSA farmers market stand. These are the bunches of clean, white, small turnips--usually stacked next to the radishes--with their green tops attached. If you don't like turnips, you have probably skipped right by them.

If so, you are missing out on a non-turnip-y turnip. Harukei are Japanese in origin, which suggests some different preparations than you might have been considering. The taste is almost sweet and crisp, mild in flavor, like a radish without all the sass and bite, so you can lean either sweet or savory and still do well. The greens also are edible, making it a 2-for-1 vegetable bargain. And it's versatile: You can mash, boil, braise, roast, saute, or eat it raw. Finally, it lasts a long time under refrigeration.

I don't quite have 101 short recipes for using harukei, but here are 24 of them. Don't leave these versatile veg on the farm stand!

  • Slice thin and use in place of chips with your favorite dip. I love guacamole, but when I have guests who don't go for spicy, this avocado-basil dip works great.
  • Use a trifecta of CSA products and stir-fry them with spring onions, green garlic, and tofu.
  • Play up the harukei's sweet side in a salad of arugula, harukei, strawberries, and more.
  • Make a mash: Boil the harukei, mash them with garlic, salt, pepper, butter, and fresh dill.
  • Glaze them in a little butter, sugar, and salt.
  • Saute them with their greens (blanch the greens first) in a little olive oil, with a grind of black pepper and some salt. This dish then can be a side dish or main; a pizza topping; or a fancy salad course.
  • Do that same saute, but include some cannelini beans or tofu for a protein boost.
  • Do the above salad (no. 6) but over polenta, or chop the roasted turnips smaller and fill a baked potato with them.
  • Put a slice in your fancy cocktail, in lieu of an olive in a gin martini. By the time you finish your drink, you can eat the quick-pickled harukei.
  • Pan-roast them with a glaze of honey, cayenne, salt, and pepper. This stands on its own, and could also make an amazing omelet filling.
  • Go to their Japanese roots: Cut in matchsticks along with Asian pear. Squeeze of lime. Maybe a drizzle of honey. Easy salad. (Can a Japanese root go to its roots?)
  • Toss with stale bread, tomatoes, and asparagus in a panzanella, or bread salad.
  • More Asian influence: Roast them with miso.
  • Make a couscous salad: Roast the turnip bulbs with red chili flakes, olive oil, salt and pepper. Saute the greens. Chop some red onion and cook Israeli couscous, mix them with the greens, and top with the turnips. A quick dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper is all your need.
  • Pickle them, so you have some beyond the summer.
  • Your crudite board, duh. They will hold up beautifully in hot weather, staying nice and crisp.
  • Roast them in some oil, salt, and pepper, then coat with a pesto of your choice.
  • Stir-fry with shrimp and chili flakes. Add a squeeze of lime juice at the end.
  • Glaze them in maple syrup and serve with soba noodles and shitake mushrooms. Watch a video of this recipe here.
  • Chop or slice and toss in a green salad, or use in place of celery in a mayonnaise-based tuna, egg, or chicken salad.
  • Put the greens in a cacio e pepe pasta, and make a salad of the turnips with pears.
  • Toss in oil, salt, pepper, and grill them. They'll hold up on their own or on skewers.
  • Stir fry with the chopped greens in a ginger-soy glaze.
  • Boil turnip chunks with potatoes; saute the greens with scallions. Make a turnip-potato mash and top with the greens.