I’m not usually one to buy turnips at the farmer’s market, especially during the summer when my eyes are easily taken by all of the other beauties of the season — fuzzy peaches, ruby raspberries, fat tomatoes, squash blossoms. Show me a turnip amidst this gold mine of summer produce and I’ll probably look at it and say something like “oh. A turnip.”
But! Show me a deep pink bulb attached to bright green, stalky leaves, and I’ll probably say something like “oh! A radish.” Which would be an honest mistake. Luckily, you’d correct me by saying something like “actually, it’s a turnip! A Scarlet Queen Red turnip!” Then you’d give me a sample (I think it’s pretty clear that you are now the owner of a vegetable stall at the Ferry building farmer’s market) and I’d look at you, wide eyed, my jaw neatly crunching the raw, surprisingly sweet and very faintly bitter root. I’d swallow and smile, and then make that guy Ben come over to taste it, too. He’d say “yum,” and then you’d say “right?” and then we’d say “sold!”
And then we’d have a bunch of radish-looking turnips lying around.
Since you (you veggie-stall-owning-genius you) had informed us that we could, indeed, eat them raw (and I’d be feeling too lazy to turn on the stove for roasting or quick pickles) we’d use them in a salad. A supremely crunchy, bitter, sweet and salty, bright and verdant salad. With a hunk of crusty bread and some cheese, it’d be lunchtime perfection, without a berry or peach in sight.
Scarlet Queen Red Turnip Salad
If you can’t find Scarlet Queen Red turnips, radishes or thinly sliced chioggia beets would make nice substitutes here.
- 1 small bunch Scarlet Queen Red turnips, washed and sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
- 1/2 medium cucumber, largely diced (1/2-inch cubes)
- 3 scallions, light green and white parts only, sliced thinly into rounds
- 1/4 cup shelled pistachios
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- salt and pepper, to taste
- juice of 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
In a medium salad bowl, combine the turnips, cucumber, scallion, and pistachios. Sprinkle feta cheese on top, as well as a big pinch each of salt and black pepper. Drizzle lemon juice and olive oil over salad, and toss gently to combine.
Serve immediately (if you need to make the salad ahead of time, combine everything but the feta, salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil — add these ingredients just before serving).
Yields about 4 cups salad.