Root Vegetables: Delicious, Nutritious, Smart Budget Savers

7 years ago
Turnips (Brassica rapa) at the Portland Farmer...
Image via Wikipedia

Living well has nothing to do with how much money you have, it's about discovering what roots you and gives pleasure. Things like: spending time with family and friends; reading a book; going for a swim; playing a game; eating well.

While we kid around about most things, (we did write Bitches on a Budget, after all), we never kid around about our food!   Marketing for, preparing and eating delicious healthy food is like a religion to us. We believe that the only thing between being on a budget and eating well is sweat equity. We believe the best food is often the simplest. We believe the best food is always the freshest. And the best way to get fresh, is buying in season as close to farm as is reasonable. So, we keep a close eye on seasonal surplus to find the best fresh ingredients at the best prices.

Since digging up bargains is what we do best, this fall harvest time we're rocking out on root vegetables. They are versatile, nutritious, delicious and cheap, cheap, cheap. First up: Turnips.

Depending on the variety, when they are harvested, how long it takes to get them from farm to table, and preparation method, the flavor pop in a turnip can run the gamut from bitter to sweet to crunchy to tangy. We embrace them all.

Add turnips to the pan of a simple roast chicken, a root vegetable mélange, or a pot roast. Puree them. Make soup, pickles, and chips with turnips. Slice baby sweet ones raw into a salad.

Our favorite preparation is braised. Like all our recipes this is just a guideline. You can increase/decrease the amount. Cook more or less. Add another root vegetable to the mix, your own herbs, a different stock.

The B's Braised Turnips

2 lbs small whole turnips (or larger ones cut in 1/2) peeled

3 tablespoons olive oil or butter

1 1/2-2 cups water or chicken stock

Fresh Thyme  (optional)

Kosher salt Pepper

We make this in our 'go to' 12" All Clad fry pan. (Avoid using a Teflon pan --the turnips won't 'caramelize' nicely.)

Heat oil or butter (or a combo of the two) over a medium high heat. Add, peeled turnips, salt and pepper. Cook for 10-12 minutes until the turnips begin to turn golden brown. (Don't worry, they won't be evenly browned the slow braise will do this.) The exact time for this is stovetop and veggie dependent. The trick is to not let the heat get too high-- burning the oil/butter-- or too low-- the veggies won't caramelize.

Then add the water or stock to the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the turnips. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to med-low. Cook 45-minutes to an hour. (Remember we said 'sweat equity'? This requires minding. You may need to add more liquid as the turnips are cooking, turn the heat up or down, and keep checking for doneness.)

 It is done when the turnips are nicely browned and tender. If you still have liquid left in the pan, remove the veggies, and cook down the liquid. Put the turnips back in the pan to glaze.

Season with salt, pepper and fresh thyme sprigs.

Read more from Rosalyn Hoffman at Bitches on a Budget and Mama B's on a Budget.

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