Turnip Puree Is Even Better Than Potato

Buckle everyone up, I’m here to protect and exalt the turnip. In fact, I would even say that mashed turnips are better than their potato counterparts and are a much more interesting sauce preparation. The cooked turnip is firm but velvety, with a slight nutty flavor and gives the flavor to a festive pasta. But, complete revelation, not all of my Christmas holidays when I ate turnips were fun.

When I hear the phrase, “We did something special just for you,” my pulse quickens and I’m ready to report a crime. The first time I heard that it was Christmas with the family of a former in rural Ontario, where I was presented with a dish called turnip fluff. To make turnip fluff (not what you should), you boil a packet of turnips, add sugar and butter, then start stirring the cinnamon and forget when to stop. Knead it all, put it in a baking dish, sprinkle with marshmallows and bake until Satan tells you it’s enough. (Satan has no safe word.) The dish that included this dish was, unfortunately, a torrent of injustice, and I never returned to that house in the Ontario countryside for another holiday. But the turnip has suffered a much worse fate than the lousy cook who clumsily struggles with cinnamon.

People have been eating turnips for 4,000 years and have ridiculed it just as many. If an ancient Roman threw a turnip at someone, it meant that that person was hated. In the late 16th century, European colonists brought turnips to North America to give them a fresh start (like when you move out after high school and reinvent yourself in a new high school). You see, at that time in England turnips were eaten by farm animals and the poor.

During the Irish Potato Famine , The Turnip Breeding book was published to encourage tenant farmers to plant crops and use them to feed their animals and themselves, and both world wars caused food shortages that forced the European population to eat tubers. A noble effort was made to rebrand the turnip: a cookbook titled “ Turnips Instead of Potatoes ” was published , and the chef of the Savoy Hotel in London invented a turnip pie and named it after Lord Woolton, Britain’s Secretary of Food . The effort has paid off somewhat.

Personally, I’ve always liked the little root vegetable. I grew up in Jamaica and was served turnips in chicken or beef soup . Their earthy flavor was accentuated by a rich broth enhanced with carrots, bell peppers, thyme, peppers and green onions. When my father was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I learned all I could about how to prepare food that is right for him. My research has shown that turnip lowers blood sugar and helps correct other metabolic disorders associated with diabetes, such as high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Unlike potatoes, blood glucose levels do not rise after eating turnips. So, I started experimenting. As a result of this experiment, on one fateful Christmas, I made turnip puree. And I never looked back.

The dish is very cheap to prepare in winter and the cooked turnip tastes delicious. They are earthy, slightly spicy and slightly sweet – as if beets graduated from high school in Lausanne and started dating radishes. Turnips are tubers, similar to rutabagas, with which people simply do not know what to do with them. But if kale can become a Whole Foods darling, I don’t understand why turnips can’t be the center of attention.

On this holiday, along with everything else we have to worry about, turnip puree is a great choice for people concerned about high blood sugar. And even if you don’t have to worry about such things, the turnip puree is delicious, with an earthy, nutty flavor and such a velvety taste. I highly recommend you try this delicious dish this holiday season (and don’t forget the gravy).

Turnip puree

  • 2 ½ lb. turnips, peeled and diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed from stems
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chives (green parts only), chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Place the turnips in a saucepan and cover with cold water until immersed. Cook until tender with a fork (10-15 minutes). Drain the water completely in a colander (turnips can be very damp; this step will ensure that all excess water is drained away). After draining, return to the pot and stir with the rest of the ingredients. If you want a softer mash, adjust the consistency by adding heavy cream until it is as soft as you want it to be. Heat in the oven or in a water bath before serving.


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