Don’t ‘turnup’ your nose. Instead, give them a chance to show how wonderful they can be with just a bit of preparation. Also known as ‘Swedish Turnips’, they don’t exactly scream out for your attention in the markets, as would happen with shapely squashes, brilliant chard and peppers, or exotic mushrooms. They tend to look a little forlorn. Perhaps they are misunderstood. Their flavour (which is far more complex than that of the white turnips) is often described as ‘earthy’, but this is a faulty notion. Think instead of caramel, bitter greens, whiskey. They form good alliances with a broad range of notables, such as beef, cheese (Jarlsberg, Cheddar, Brie), apples, pears, nuts and seeds. They seem a bit geeky, even artsy. If they had a musical preference, it would probably be for Tom Waits. If they played an instrument: I’m thinking tenor sax. Get to know them; you’ll likely find that they improve on the menu, providing an exciting tonal contrast to an ordinary line-up.
And while you’re at it, check out Carl Sandburg’s “Rootabaga Stories”, a collection of whimsical tales for the child-poet in all of us. It’s populated by such characters as the Chocolate Chins, the Spoon Lickers, the Potato Face Blind Man, Hot Dog the Tiger. They live in such places as The Village of Liver and Onions, The Village of Cream Puffs, The Village of Eggs Up, and of course, Rootabaga Country. He must have had a big fondness of food.
The simplest preparation (after peeling and slicing) would be to roast with a bit of olive oil at 425 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes (turn once), salt and pepper, and….Voila!…..Delectable!
Taking it to another level, I decided to extrapolate from something (trying to be diplomatic here) which I consider to be an unpalatable (frightening) concoction. That would be the “food” known as “Poutine“. Can you believe it? Whole restaurants are contrived around this dish. There is a World Poutine Eating Championship held here in Toronto. There is an annual Poutine Festival that attracts about 15,000 people to Maillardville, BC each year. Poutine is like the slut of the carb community (forget diplomacy) and carbs aren’t exactly reveling in good PR as it is these days. Well Madame Poutine, meet my gentleman/poet friend, Mr. Neep. After a stint in the oven, it is graced with slices of Brie (or, as I have used here, a peppercorn Brie) and roasting is resumed long enough to melt the cheese. (Broiling is also an option.) Dijon mustard and thin wedges of apple complete the arrangement. Merveilleuse.