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Now THAT’S a boring vegetable, isn’t it? You think winter’s here, so time to reach for those veg imported from the darkest Peru, as none of the local ones are on the shelves… WRONG. The seasonal stuff should be what we look for in the winter months and the seasonal stuff in the bleak November – or indeed coming up to Christmas – is some truly lovely winter root vegetables.
I’ve written about parsnips and celeriac and beetroot and honestly sticking to what’s in season, plentiful and cheap makes you appreciate those green shoots of asparagus, come May. Turnips are a perfect side for your Christmas lunch, believe me.
They get a new line of life with this recipe, zinged with a dash of parmesan and thoroughly cooked through. Now I’m a hater of overcooked veg, but those babies, they need to be tender. Buy small ones if you can – if you can’t, cook them long enough.
- 4 – 5 baby turnips
- oil and butter for roasting
- a few sprigs of thyme
- a few sprigs of rosemary (or rosemary salt, see below)
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp grated parmesan
1. Peel the turnips and cut them into quarters. Place in a pan of boiling salted water and cook for about 20 minutes, until tender. Drain and cool.
2. If you want to make your own rosemary salt, it’s well worth putting your coffee grinder out of coffee action for a while – it needs to de-smell, left clean and open to air. Strip the rosemary needles off the sprigs, add a teaspoon of coarse salt and grind to almost a powder. It will keep for a good few weeks in a tightly sealed container. If you can’t be bothered, just chop the rosemary as fine as you can.
3. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Sprinkle the cooked turnips with the rosemary (or rosemary salt), salt and pepper and thyme leaves, and about a third of the grated parmesan.
4. Melt the oil and butter on the hob in an ovenproof dish. Add the turnips and keep them on the heat while you turn them all over in the fat. Bake for about 40 minutes, until well browned all over, turning them over at least twice through and adding the next third of the parmesan each time they are turned over. Serve immediately.