Turnips never make the list of sexy vegetables. I haven’t yet heard that turnips will be the “new kale,” but who knows, maybe the fruity crunch of Hakurei Turnips will change all that.
Unlike the usual purple tinged, pink, or just kind of rough looking over-wintered turnip, these Hakurei turnips are a joy to eat raw. All you have to do is start peeling and you can feel how tender they are, yielding to your paring knife like an apple. The sweet, slightly cabbagey scent lets you know that they are fresh and succulent.
The Hakurei is Made for Salad
Sometimes called a “salad turnip,” or “Tokyo turnip,” Hakurei is a variety bred for crunch and smoothness on the palate. The pristine white skin is more akin to a just picked parsnip than a turnip.
As the name would imply, the Hakurei is of Japanese origin. It’s not new, but they seem to only appear in Summer, in better stocked produce departments and farmer’s markets. They are just so pretty that I keep buying them, and I’m never disappointed. They have a fruity, slightly earthy flavor, with lots of juicy snap. The rooty, bitter notes of other turnips are nowhere to be found.
Not that I don’t like the other kinds, check out this recipe for Turnips Three Ways.
Like all turnips, they are high in Vitamin C, and the greens are even more nutritious. They are right up there with kale, nutritionally, full of Vitamin A, K, C, folate, copper, calcium, and cancer-preventing glucosinalates. My greens were kind of wilted by the time I got them home, so I didn’t put them in the salad this time, but you certainly should when they are fresh. I saved them for a saute later.
So if you see some mysteriously pale turnips in your CSA, at the Farmer’s Market, or at the grocery store, give them a try. They will be in season all summer long, to add variety to your same old salads.
Try this Asian-inspired salad, with a dressing that takes about 2 minutes to make. It’s so easy.
Big Salad with Hakurei Turnip and Hemp-Tamarind Dressing
- 4 cups sliced Nappa cabbage use part turnip greens, if fresh and crisp
- 2 large carrots shredded
- 2 stalks broccoli cut in florets
- 4 large red radishes julienned
- 2 medium Hakurei Turnips julienned
- 4 handfuls pea shoots trimmed
- 1/4 cup hemp oil
- 1/4 cup tamarind paste
- 2 tablespoons tamari
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
- 2 teapoons fresh ginger minced
- hemp seeds for garnish
- Prep all the vegetables, and arrange them on four dinner plates, in order.
- In a cup, mix the oil, tamarind, tamari and ginger. If your tamarind is very thick, stir in a little water to make a pourable dressing.
- Serve salads drizzled with dressing and sprinkled with hemp seeds.
The green leafy tops of turnips are delicious (and a powerhouse of nutrition): briefly blanch, coarsely chop and dress in a sesame-soy sauce (1 tablespoon ground toasted sesame + 1 tablespoon rice vinegar + 1 teaspoon soy sauce); garnish with more toasted sesame seeds if you like. Or… place in a bowl with a some minced scallions and pour hot miso-thickened broth over. ENJOY!
Thanks, Elizabeth! That sound delicious. The greens are really the most nutritious part. And perfect with the savory umami of miso or soy sauce.
You know your turnip greens.
If you grow your own you can enjoy both bulb (the white turnip) and the leaves. These turnips are fairly easy to grow from seeds. In the USA best are available from Kitazawa Seed Company in Oakland, CA http://www.kitazawaseed.com/seed_327_1-132.html
Thanks for the resource. I love the turnip bulb in this salad, or just sliced for dipping in guacamole or gomasio.