It’s easy to get excited about turnips when talking about the unexpectedly sweet and mild Japanese turnips. Also known as Hakueri turnips (pronounced hah-koo-re-ee); these are the turnips for those who say they don’t like turnips. And when we’re talking about Roasted Japanese Turnips with Greens, oh my. Once roasted, they become surprisingly flavorful, crisp, tender and juicy all at once.
I tasted my first Japanese turnips a number of years ago. The inviting small white rounds tasted sweet and juicy. The memory of them has stayed with me all these years. Then, just two weeks ago, I saw them once again at the farmers’ market..
Japanese turnips – in season now
This year a number of our local farmers are selling Japanese turnips. Perhaps you’ve passed them by thinking they’re just like the slightly bitter purple-topped turnips. Not so, Japanese turnips are way more delicious. Plus, they’re so tender, no peeling’s required.
So crunchy and satisfying when raw, some people call them “salad turnips.” They’re great
- Eaten raw like an apple.
- As a crudités with hummus or other dips and spreads.
- Enjoyed like a radish with a sprinkling of salt.
- Chopped or grated and tossed into salads.
- Naturally fermented.
Deliciously mild, Japanese turnips cook up crisp and juicy when
- Cut into rounds and added to stir-fries.
- Lightly steamed.
- Roasted with their slightly peppery greens.
A bit of history
Hakueri turnips are a hybrid developed in Japan in the 1950’s. Their hybridization came in response to the severe food shortages caused by World War II. With a short growing time, lots of nutrients and flavor, Hakueri turnips served as a valuable food during a time of hardship. And remain a valuable and delicious food today.
Like all turnips, the Japanese Hakueri turnips are a member of the Brassica family of cruciferous vegetables. Turnip greens are one of the world’s healthiest foods, being incredibly rich in vitamins K, A and C. As well as being an important source of folate, copper, fiber and calcium.
Mildly peppery when sautéed, a dash of balsamic vinegar makes the greens especially delicious. Do try the combination in this recipe for Roasted Japanese Turnips with Greens.
When you’re not going to cook the greens right away, store them separately from the turnips. Pack the greens in moist paper towels inside a plastic bag. They’ll remain fresh for about 4 days.
There’s no need to peel these thin-skinned turnips also known as Hakueri turnips. For an extra crunch, leave the tail attached. Depending upon how many greens came with your turnips, you may want to supplement them with enough additional Swiss chard to have 4 cups of sliced, uncooked greens. Vegan.
Makes 2-4 servings Printer-Friendly Recipe
Active Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
1 pound Japanese turnips
1 ½ teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Fresh thyme sprigs, optional
Stems and greens from the turnips
Swiss chard, as necessary
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, pressed
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 ½ teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Separate the turnip roots from the greens. Leave about 1 inch of stem on each turnip. Depending on their size, halve or quarter the turnips lengthwise.
- Toss them with the olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
- Divide the thyme sprigs so you have the same number of sprigs as cut sections of turnips.
- Place the thyme sprigs on the parchment paper. Top each sprig with a cut-side down section of turnip.
- Roast the turnips for 20 minutes.
- Turn over halved turnips. Flip quartered turnips to their other cut side. Roast another 10-15 minutes, until easily pierced with the tines of a fork.
The turnip greens
- Remove the thicker part of the stems from the greens.
- Slice the stems ¼ inch thick and set aside.
- Slice the greens into 1-inch wide strips, to equal about 4 cups of greens.
- About 6 minutes before the turnips are done roasting, place a sauté pan over medium high heat.
- When hot add the olive oil. Stir in the sliced shallot. Cook for one minute.
- Stir in the pressed garlic and the turnip stems. Cook for 1 ½ minutes.
- Add the greens. Lightly sprinkle with salt and a twist of fresh pepper. Toss everything together. Cover the pan. Cook for 1 minute.
- Uncover the pan. Cook another minute or so until the greens are tender. Turn off the heat. Stir in the balsamic vinegar.
- Spread the greens in a layer on your serving dish, or on individual plates.
- Top the greens with the roasted Japanese turnips. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.