Cool-Weather Turnip Crops: Nutritious and Delicious

Cool-weather turnip crops make for delicious fall side dishes. No other vegetable gives you the choice between nutritious greens or juicy roots that rival carrots for crunchiness, plus it’s easy to store perfect roots in a cool basement all the way through the first half of winter. Learn to grow and cook with this root crop that deserves our respect.


| October/November 2007



‘Amber Globe,’ ‘Purple Top White Globe’ and ‘Golden Ball’ turnips.

‘Amber Globe,’ ‘Purple Top White Globe’ and ‘Golden Ball’ turnips.


Photo by David Cavagnaro

Try growing cool-weather turnip crops in the garden. This venerable veggie deserves more respect. If ever there were a vegetable in need of an image make-over, it’s the turnip. People either love them or hate them.

Cooking With Turnips

Rosy Pickled Turnips Recipe
Turnip Apple Slaw Recipe
Sesame Roasted Turnips Recipe

As a crop that’s fed humanity since prehistoric times, cool-weather turnip crops deserve more respect in our modern gardens — and in our kitchens. No other vegetable gives you the choice between supernutritious greens or juicy roots that rival carrots for crunchiness, plus it’s easy to store perfect roots in a cool basement all the way through the first half of winter.

The world seems divided into people who love or hate turnip greens, though many haters change their minds after a few forks full of young, garden-grown turnip greens, which are delicately delicious compared to the hairy, coarse versions sold in bunches at supermarkets. Young greens smaller than your hand are ideal for quick stir fries, and they can stand in for spinach in calzones, casseroles and many other cooked dishes. I like to sauté young turnip greens with garlic, onions and end-of-the-season sweet peppers, then serve the colorful mélange over hot, cheesy polenta. Turnip greens are good for you too — they’re rich in vitamins A and C, as well as folic acid.

Even if you don’t think you will ever like turnip greens, your palate may be pleasantly surprised by the sprightly flavor of a perfectly grown raw salad turnip. Their mild flavor and crunchy texture come through best when the roots are picked just as they reach golf ball size and are enjoyed raw; peeling is optional. You can cut salad turnips into rounds or sticks to dip into salad dressing, hummus, cream cheese or even peanut butter (try it, you’ll like it). And thinly sliced salad turnips are great on sandwiches, or you can cook and pickle them. For a beautiful presentation, braise baby turnips, with a few leaves still attached, in a little canola oil. When the roots begin to brown, sprinkle on a pinch of salt and another pinch of sugar, then turn off the heat. Yum!

Growing Great Fall Turnips

In the garden, turnips are an easy, fast cool-weather crop you can grow in the fall and in spring. Any sunny, well-drained spot with average or better soil will do.

caitlin hill
2/27/2012 6:18:59 PM

When you say turnips grow well where peas or beans grew during the summer I'm not sure I understand. If you're referring to peas and beans being legumes, then you would have needed to turned the bean or pea plants into the soil to see any benefit. The nitrogen that legumes fix is stored in their plant mass, not in the soil. Simply growing a legume does not benefit the soil it grows in unless the plant material is turned in so it biodegrades in the soil. If you are planting turnips right after a crop of peas or beans then I doubt you've given the plant material enough time to break down in the soil, which is the only way to see the nitrogen benefits of growing a legume.






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