At this time of year we’re conditioned to get asparagus crazy. Fawned over by food writers and photographers, the harbinger of spring shakes us out of our winter stupor, into full-blown kitchen madness. Asparagus soup, asparagus tart, pickled asparagus, roasted asparagus: grown adults go giddy, bordering on fanatical, feverishly snatching up bunches like fashionistas at an H&M store opening.
Our weekly trip to the Portland Farmer’s Market started out on this path, after dropping off man and child in line for Pine State Biscuits, I made my first lap, hell-bent on finding local, pencil thin asparagus with the other early birds- let it be known that 9AM barely beats the crowd.
Wadda ya get? A gravy soaked, biscuit stuffed mouth greeted me upon my return
These, I said, slowly pulling a bouquet of white baby turnips attached to slender greens from my bag like a fragile antique.
What’ch ya goin’ do with’em?
My lips pursed and nose wrinkled north. I stared at my man finishing the last of his breakfast.
What was I going to do with these? I had no idea.
Thank god for the internet and a smart phone.
On our second, more leisurely lap through the market we picked up Chop’s chicken liver pate, and Choi’s bok choy kimchi before stopping before a bottle of molasses colored buckwheat honey. Caramel flavors with earthy undertones and a stunted sweetness had me handing over $12 without pause. If you ever find a jar, get one. You won’t regret it.
After cross referencing several recipes on the way home I settled on roasting the turnips and dressing them in a honey mustard sauce, inspired by this recipe from those fabulous Beekman boys. The result was transformative, as my friend Erin would say. A humble vegetable, the turnip when roasted whole yields a mild, sweet flavor. Thinking about them now, I can’t wait to get my hands on another bunch.
Sorry asparagus, this spring I’m tots into baby turnips.
Roasted French Breakfast Radishes and Baby Turnips with Buckwheat Honey Dijon Sauce
I’ve used the Buckwheat honey here, feel free to use what you have on hand.
1 bunch of baby japanese turnips- about 6
1/2 bunch french breakfast radishes- about 4-6. You could use the whole bunch if you wanted to. I just figured you might like to eat them sliced on a piece of bread with some European style butter and a little sea salt.
2 teaspoons Buckwheat Honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
fleur de sel
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Trim the radishes and turnips leaving 1/2 inch tops attached. Wash the vegetables, removing any traces of dirt and shake off any excess water. Place in a small baking dish and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until the turnips are easily pierced with a knife.
Meanwhile trim turnip greens of their stalks. Fill a bowl with cool water and plunge the greens into the bowl, gently massaging the greens, allowing for the dirt and any little critters to fall to the bottom of the bowl. Drain greens and shake off any excess water. Chop the greens into 1-inch pieces. Heat a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add a teaspoon or so of olive oil and the greens. Saute for a minute or two with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add a little less that 1/4 cup of water, and immediately cover the pan. Allow the greens to steam until tender, about 6-8 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the honey and Dijon with 2 tsp olive oil (a little 2, 2, 2, combo). The dressing will be thick, almost glaze like- and a fantastic glaze it is! Perfect for salmon.
When the radishes and turnips are roasty toasty, remover from roasting pan and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Trip the vegetables of their tops and slice in half lengthwise. Transfer the vegetables to a medium bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of honey Dijon sauce. You only need just enough sauce to lightly coat the vegetables.
Divide the greens between two plates, top with the roasted vegetables and garnish with a little fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper.