Local farmers markets now have a good supply of turnips and turnip greens.
The turnip, a white-fleshed root vegetable, is a member of the cabbage family. The skin is usually pale purple or white shading into green.
When young, its root is crunchy with a nutty sweetness, somewhat like a cabbage. As the turnip matures, its flavor becomes stronger and its texture coarser.
While available year-round, the turnip’s peak season is from October through March. Look for fresh turnips that are small, firm and heavy for their size, with undamaged skins. The green tops, if attached, should be crisp and bright-colored.
Before using, wash and trim the turnip. Young turnips don’t need peeling, but mature ones do. They may be boiled, steamed, puréed, stir-fried or used raw in salads. They also can be used as crudité with dips.
The tops, when young and tender, are sold as turnip greens. They have an assertive bite and are cooked like other greens.
Turnip greens need a good bath; shake the leaves and then strip from the stems.
The greens have only 30 calories per cup and are an excellent source of vitamins A and C and folic acid.
Turnips can be refrigerated, tightly wrapped, for up to two weeks. The greens have a much shorter shelf life — about three days if refrigerated in a plastic bag.