The turnip is a member of the cabbage family, and closely related to the swede, with which it is often confused.
There are two seasons for turnips. The spring turnip has a delicate off-white bulb, and the winter turnip is larger with a yellow-green bulb and pale flesh.
One way to cook Spring turnips is to peel and steam them whole for 5 minutes. They can also be roasted, skin and all, or cooked the French way as part of a spring lamb stew. If they are really fresh, spring turnips can be sliced thinly or grated raw into Oriental salads.
Today I am offering you two of my favourite ways to eat these tender little gems. I wanted to eat the greens as well so opted for the first recipe today, but they are equally delicious either way.
400g/1lb spring turnip greens
2 T sunflower oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 red chilli, split lengthways
5cm/2in piece root ginger, peeled and grated
4 plump garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
400g/1lb small turnips, trimmed, peeled and quartered
salt, to taste
¼ tsp ground turmeric
Finely slice the spring turnip greens and wash them thoroughly - this isn't just to remove any grit, but also because, as there's no liquid added to this dish, the water clinging to the leaves will ensure that the greens cook quickly and evenly. Heat the oil in a large lidded pan and add the cumin seeds. When they begin to pop, reduce the heat and add the chili, ginger and garlic. Add the turnips, salt and turmeric, cover the pan with a lid and cook for ten minutes. Add the spring greens and cook, covered, for a further ten minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are tender but still brightly coloured and slightly crunchy. Serve hot as a side dish, removing the chili before serving if you wish.