Around here, that means it’s time to enjoy warmer spring days, plant the garden and divide perennials, watch baby leaves unfold from the trees, splash in puddles and observe the reawakening of dormant house cats everywhere. For me, May is also a time to enjoy eating hakurei turnips.
I first tried hakurei turnips a few years ago when I found them in my CSA share. I was still new to local eating and the varied vegetable scene (aside from supermarket veggies like tomatoes, peppers and other “regular” vegetables). “Oh my,” I thought, “here’s another vegetable that I don’t recognize, can’t pronounce, and have no idea how to prepare.” When I found out that I could eat not only the little white, round turnips but the greens too, my enthusiasm perked up. I love eating vegetables that have multiple edible parts – it must be the recycler in me that loves it so much. Hakurei turnips are low-waste vegetables. You cut off very little of each end for scraps, you can use the leaves which sit on very short stems, and you don’t have to peel each turnip. Yes, you heard correctly, you don’t have to peel them, which means they should be in your “I need a quick weeknight meal” rotation. Want know how I prepare them? It’s easy, tasty, healthy and fast.
By the way, I’ve heard them pronounced all different ways, such as: “Hah-kur-ee,” and “Hah-kur-eye.”
Hakurei Turnip Salad
My favorite way to enjoy hakurei turnips is in a salad. The light peppery sweetness of the turnips shines through. On their own, the leaves aren’t tough but they aren’t exactly tender either. However, with a little warm dressing, they wilt ever so slightly and become tender salad greens. This recipe is a favorite because it’s so flexible. You can add other hearty salad greens, such as arugula and mustard greens, and use sunflower seeds in place of nuts.
Prepare this salad in a bowl and dress it just before serving.
1 bunch, hakurei turnips with greens (5 or 6 turnips)
1 bunch, mustard greens or arugula (optional)
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts or sunflower seeds
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Prepare the Salad
Rinse and chop into salad-sized pieces the greens from one bunch of turnips and your optional mustard greens or arugula. Put the stems in your compost bucket or freeze them with your other veggie scraps to make stock later on. Put the greens in your salad bowl.
Wash as many turnips as you think you’d like to eat. I usually use 3 or 4. Cut the ends off the top and bottom. Cut each turnip in half and slice thinly. Add the turnips to the greens.
In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar, honey, and mustard.
In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add pecans or walnuts or sunflower seeds, then the vinegar mixture. Heat thoroughly and reduce the dressing until it starts to thicken. Remove from the heat, pour over the salad, and toss to coat all the greens. Top with croutons, if desired. Serve at once.