By Jessica Linnell, PhD, Assistant Professor of Practice, OSU Extension
Turnips are a member of the Brassica genus of plants, which also includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale. The edible portions of the plant are the root and the leaves, often called turnip greens. The root of the plant is usually mostly white with a purple or red crown. Turnip plants grow best in the cool weather of winter months and are in season now.
Turnip greens are a common dish in the Southern United States where they are prepared similarly to collard greens. To prepare them, remove the leaves from the stems and simmer in water with ham hocks or salt pork until they are tender and delicious (about 45 minutes). Like cabbage and kale, turnip greens also make a wonderful addition to soups and stews.
Turnip greens are an excellent source of vitamin C and folate. Folate is a nutrient that our bodies use for making amino acids necessary for building proteins, and the nucleic acids that are used in DNA. Folate is particularly important for women who may become pregnant because it is important for growth and development. Folate also plays an important role in brain health, including cognitive function and emotions. One cup of cooked turnip greens contain 170 micrograms of folate, which is more than 40% of the daily needs of an adult.
How much folate do I need?
- Children 1 to 3 years: 150 micrograms
- Children 4 to 8 years: 200 micrograms
- Children 9 to 13 years: 300 micrograms
- People 14 years and older: 400 micrograms
- Pregnant women: 600 micrograms
- Breastfeeding: 500 micrograms
People all over the world eat turnip roots. They are commonly used in stews, soups, and braised meats. Next time you make beef stew, add some chopped turnips along with the potatoes and carrots. You can also throw some in with a pot roast or braised chicken. Cooking turnips in stews, soups, or braises, allows them soak up the tasty flavors of the cooking liquids. Adding turnips can also boost the nutritional quality of a meal. One cup of turnips is an excellent source of vitamin C, riboflavin (vitamin B2), and fiber.
Roasting is another great way to prepare turnip roots. Like carrots and potatoes, they are wonderful when roasted with olive oil and herbs. This delightful recipe for Maple Glazed Turnips and Sweet Potatoes combines the sweet flavors of maple syrup and brightness of lemon juice with the earthy flavors of the turnips.
Maple Glazed Turnips and Sweet Potatoes
Source: Food Hero (www.foodhero.org)
1 Tablespoon margarine or butter
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 cups turnips, peeled and diced
2 cups sweet potatoes, cubed
- Melt margarine and add syrup, cinnamon and lemon juice.
- Mix turnips and sweet potatoes in a medium casserole dish. Add syrup mixture and stir to coat evenly.
- Cover and bake at 400 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until browned for another 20 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.
- Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.
Per serving: 80 calories, 1.5 g saturated fat, 50 mg sodium, 15g total carbohydrate, 2g dietary fiber, 8g sugars, 1g protein, 100% DV vitamin A, 20% DV vitamin C, 4% DV calcium, and 2% DV iron.