RECIPES: ‘Tis the season for pickling turnips

Root vegetables are a staple of winter cooking. Pictured are (clockwise from top) hakurei turnips, Tsugaru Scarlet pink turnips and beets.
(C.W. Cameron for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: C.W. Cameron

Credit: C.W. Cameron

Root vegetables are a staple of winter cooking. Pictured are (clockwise from top) hakurei turnips, Tsugaru Scarlet pink turnips and beets. (C.W. Cameron for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Root vegetables are a staple of winter cooking, and the turnip is one of my favorites. The ones you’re likely to find at the grocery store are purple-top turnips with white flesh that grow sharper and spicier in flavor as the bulbs get bigger.

If you’re visiting local farmers markets, the turnips you’re most likely to see are the smaller, sweeter Japanese hakurei turnips. They’re often called salad turnips because the white-fleshed bulbs are crisp and sweet, perfect to slice raw into a winter salad.

I’ve been shopping for turnips because I wanted to make Arabic pickled turnips. My second-generation Syrian mother made these pickles with purple-top turnips and, as is traditional, a few slices of beet to turn the pickles pink.

We ate them on pita spread with hummus. We ate them alongside grilled lamb kebabs. My mother served them for the same reason you’ll find quick pickled vegetables on so many restaurant menus: They provide vinegar tang, crunchy texture and a bright counterpoint to richer dishes.

Shopping for turnips and perusing the offerings from Fry Farm in Bethlehem, I saw hakurei turnips but also a variety new to me, pink-fleshed Tsugaru Scarlet turnips. The Frys began growing this variety last year, and Vicky Fry cooks them just as she does other turnips, using a recipe she found in an Irish pub cookbook. “I braise the turnips in a pan with butter, then deglaze with fresh rosemary and the juice and zest of an orange and add a dash of salt. Everyone loves it.”

In reading about the Tsugaru Scarlet turnips, I learned they’re often pickled, and that inspired me to make a quick turnip pickle with Asian influences.

Quick pickled turnips provide vinegar tang, crunchy texture and a bright counterpoint to rich dishes. (C.W. Cameron for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: C.W. Cameron

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Credit: C.W. Cameron

Asian-Style Pickled Turnips

If you can find Tsugaru Scarlet turnips, they’ll make a naturally pink pickle. Pickled ginger is available where sushi is sold in your grocery store.

Arabic-Style Pickled Turnips

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