Glazed baby turnips are a great alternative to carrots and other root vegetables. They are highly seasonal in Germany and only available during the springtime. They are just as simple to prepare like any other root vegetable like kohlrabi, parsnips, or celeriac.
Especially the leaves have a pronounced bitterness to them which makes baby turnips stand out against all the other root vegetables. A lot of root vegetables are very sweet nowadays without even the slightest hint of bitterness. But there is something about bitter notes that is addicting.
In fact, a lot of popular foods and drinks contain a good amount of bitterness. Dark Chocolate, coffee, and chicory for example. However, if you’re preparing this dish for kids I urge you to omit the turnip leaves as garnishment. These have a strong bitterness that not everybody enjoys. If you’ve never eaten them you should taste the turnip leaves first and decide for yourself if you like them or not.
Why glazing is my favorite way to prepare root vegetables
The method for preparing baby turnips is the same as for any other glazed root vegetable. You simmer them in water or chicken broth that is seasoned with a small amount of butter and sugar until the water has reduced to a thick glaze. Then you season them with salt and a few drops of lemon juice.
This is by far my favorite way to prepare root vegetables. The natural sweetness of the root vegetable gets pronounced and the texture is perfect: tender, but not overcooked. Roasting, on the other hand, is a very aggressive cooking technique. You dry out the surface of the vegetable and thus end up with a subpar texture. The natural taste is masked by strong caramel-like flavors.
What to serve your glazed turnips with
Nevertheless, roasted vegetables taste heavenly as well. However, the natural bitterness and other more subtle flavors of the vegetable get masked. It’s a cooking technique that is best suited for the wintertime. Spring dishes should always be light in flavor and that’s why I think glazing is the ultimate way to prepare baby turnips.
Glazed baby turnips go great as a side for fish dishes. I love them with pan-fried European plaice. They are also heavenly with poultry or simply with a few slices of toasted spelt bread.
Glazed Baby Turnips (‘Glasierte Mairüben’)
- 3 medium-sized baby turnips, cut into wedges (about 12.5 ounces (350 g))
- 1/3 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1-inch knob of ginger, sliced
- lemon juice, to taste
- salt, to taste
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped turnip greens
- Place the turnip wedges in a large saute pan. Add the chicken broth, butter, sugar, and ginger. Bring the broth to a boil over high heat and cook the turnips until the liquid has reduced to a thick glace. Turn down the heat to low, stir in the lemon juice, and season the turnip wedges to taste with salt. Add your turnip greens into the pan and toss everything well.