You can make this salad whenever you have baby turnips and arugula, but it will taste best when both crops have grown in cool conditions. They should be young as well — the turnips the size of golf balls and the arugula about 3 inches long. I often make a citrus dressing, sweetened with honey, to balance the arugula’s mild heat and the raw turnips’ hint of brassica bite. Freshly juice an orange, rather than using packaged juice, so you can garnish the salad with orange zest.
• 1 orange
• 1 tbsp honey
• 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
• 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
• 9 to 12 Japanese turnips, golf-ball-sized or smaller
• 1/4 pound fresh arugula
• Dash of sea salt
• Black pepper
1. Zest the orange by grating the skin surface with a Microplane, grater or citrus zester. Set zest aside.To make the dressing, squeeze the juice out of the orange (about 1/4 cup) and combine with the honey in a small saucepan. Reduce over low heat until syrupy. Cool and whisk together with the vinegar and olive oil in a glass or small pitcher.
2. Scrub the turnips and cut off the tops, tails and any blemishes. Slice thinly crosswise. Remove any long stems from the arugula and drop a handful lightly on each of 4 salad plates. Scatter the turnip slices among the leaves, taking care not to flatten them. Dribble on the dressing (a small squirt bottle works great). Add salt and a little pepper. Using your fingers, add a dusting of the orange zest as a garnish.
3. Serve immediately.
Want to learn more about cooking and growing arugula and turnips? Read Growing Arugula and Turnips for the Table for more information.
Barbara Damrosch farms and writes with her husband, Eliot Coleman, at Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine, where sturdy bowls of turnip soup chase the chill on cool winter evenings. She is the author of The Garden Primer and, with Coleman, The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook.