Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Demo Day - Turnips!

Turnips have been the talk around the farm lately, we've been waiting and watching, then waiting some more for them to be ready.  Now, the wait is over! The beautiful greens rise from their pots, the colorful bulbs reaching from the soil. Much to our excitement, they are ready.  Every member has been getting a few turnips in their goodie bags over the past couple weekends, and the question on everyone's lips has been, "What can I do with turnip greens?" Sounds like a job for the Chef on the Farm! (dat ta da da!) 

A demo for you.

Some time ago, as I was doing my nightly research, I came upon a delightful dish I wanted to try - Wilted Swiss Chard Quesadilla with Cheddar Cheese. Yum! ... if I do say so myself. Keep in mind, unless you are working in a professional kitchen with the Chef peering over your shoulder, recipes tend to change with whomever stands behind the knife. Not every ingredient will be the same, and seasons provide a different flavor.

I put my own spin on it - turnip greens and Spanish onions with avocado pico de gallo, made with radishes and nasturtium. Although, it may be a bit more time consuming than just using the same old stuff - pre shredded cheese blend, dry chicken breast and pre-made salsa in a jar - I promise you will enjoy the end result so much more when you've spent that extra time!

Wilted Turnip Green Goat Cheese Quesadilla with Avocado Pico de Gallo
inspired by DigginFood
Par 4-5 medium quesadillas

Make the pico first so there will be time for the flavors to marry together.

Pico de Gallo

2 medium tomatoes, flesh-only, small dice (Roma tomatoes are best, but use what's on hand.)
3 scallions, bottoms sliced
3 tbsp cilantro, fine rough chopped
3-4 Nasturtium petals with steams, finely chop stems and chiffonade petals
7-8 small radishes quartered,  blanched until tender
1 avocado, peeled large diced
2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt to taste

In a medium bowl add all ingredients together, and set aside until ready to serve.


4 turnip tops washed dried, rough chop leaves, remove most stems reserve the bulbs
2 small Spanish onions thick julienne
2 garlic cloves sliced
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 scallion tops chopped
Olive Oil 

Salt to taste
Whole wheat tortillas (or any kind on hand)
2 tbsp goat cheese per tortilla

Make Turnip Greens Filling
  1. In a sauté pan, lightly caramelize onions.  
  2. Add in garlic and deglaze the pan with lemon juice.   
  3. Add turnip greens and cover.  Let them wilt for about 10-15 minutes, stirring a few times so as not to char the pan.
  4. Add scallions and cover for 2 minutes
Assemble the Quesadillas
  1. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a flat skillet.  One tortilla at a time, place on the pan.
  2. Add filling to one side of the tortilla, then crumble goat cheese over top of filling. 
  3. Fold tortilla over top (Take care when folding it over so as not burn yourself). When both sides are crisp and golden brown, remove it from the pan and set aside.
  4. Check the heat on the pan and continue making the rest. 
You can keep assembled quesadillas in a warm oven until they're all finished.

When you're ready to serve, cut each quesadilla into thirds, and place one tip on the other for plating. Top with pico de gallo and chiffonade nasturtium.

As the demo progressed and the quesadillas were coming together, I learned some guests I had in front of me were vegan and some were gluten-free.  I told them a little story about the makings of a chef, and how important it is to be able to adjust the menu according to factors like these.  After some quick thinking, I came up with a little something different, using the bulbs of the turnips. 

Using the same wilted greens for the base of this dish, I added to it orange citrus glazed turnips.  We are lucky to sell the fruits of a local citrus grove here at the farm, which I am a big fan of.  More on that at a later time.

Orange Citrus Glazed Turnips
by Chef John N Carminati 

Turnip greens filling from above
Avocado Pico de Gallo from above
4 turnip bulbs, peeled, halved and quartered. 
2 fresh squeezed oranges


  1. Blanche turnips until just before tender.
  2. Over high heat, in a oiled pan, sear each side of the turnips.
  3. Turn the heat down and deglaze with orange juice.  Reduce until nappe (until it coats the back of a spoon). Season to taste. 
For presentation, place greens then turnips in the center of the plate. Spoon the avocado pico de gallo over the top, letting it fall as it will.

An idea on the fly.


  1. I can buy into turnip greens being tasty, but the actual turnip itself is a bit terrifying.

  2. Annie, don't be afraid! They're just like every other root vegetable. Try boiling and mashing them like potatoes - add a little milk, butter and salt and you're good to go.