This dish grew out of a desire to use up a small harvest of turnips from my garden. So far this year I have had difficulty getting much of anything to grow - particularly in the new in-ground beds I made last fall. I plan to do a post soon on what I have learned so far in the relatively short time that I have been gardening in which I will explain my suspicions about why this has been the case. However, despite my garden’s poor performance, I have had a few small harvests of radishes, broccoli rabe, parsley and basil, peas and, most recently, turnips.
Planting turnips in the first place was a bit of a gamble. I wanted a root vegetable that could withstand the cooler temperatures of my region, possibly working as an early spring or fall crop. Turnips fit this bill, but I do not cook with them or even eat them – with one exception. Turnips were an essential component of the thanksgiving and Christmas turkey dinners we have had every year at my Grammie’s house since I was a child. These dinners consisted always of the same fare: the turkey and gravy, of course; soft mashed potatoes and turnips; gooey stuffing; pots of boiled carrots and occasionally broccoli; cranberry sauce, usually of the wobbly cylindrical variety freshly extracted from a can; and Pa’s signature homemade coleslaw. The sweet golden turnip mash was my favourite, and a treat, as we almost never had it at home and Grammie liberally applies the sugar - a general tendency evidenced by the assortment of pies, cheesecakes, and squares that invariably accompanied the meal.
This is, in truth, my only experience with turnips. But the turnips that emerged from my garden bed were not the enormous yellow turnips I remembered from my childhood. They were small and white and, given the paucity of my garden’s productivity, there were hardly enough for a mash. Looking for an alternative use, a google search revealed that, in the world of people who do cook with turnips, they are often coated in a miso glaze. This was perfect, as I have been cooking a lot with Asian flavours recently. Wanting to pair the miso glazed turnips with noodles, I decided to use this recipe from the fantastic blog From the Land we Live On as a starting point, adapting it to the things that I had on hand and, with meat loving M in mind, adding some chicken.
2 Tbs White Miso Paste
2 Tbs Maple Syrup
2 Tbs Rice Wine Vinegar
¼ Cup Sesame Seeds
2 Tbs Tahini
2 Tbs Low Sodium Soy Sauce
2 Tbs Rice Wine Vinegar
2 Tbs Maple Syrup
1 Tsp Sesame Oil
1 Tbs Water
1 or 2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts*
400 Grams udon noodles, cooked according to package directions**
1 Small bunch of turnips, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
4 cups loosely packed turnip greens***
1 large Green Onion, sliced
A Few Handfuls of Fresh Shelling Peas
1 Tbs Butter
Preheat the Oven to 400 degrees with the rack in the middle.
Prepare the Miso Glaze: whisk together miso paste, maple syrup, and rice wine vinegar.
Butter a small baking dish. Coat the Chicken with ½ of the miso glaze and place it into the baking dish. Insert thermometer (if not using instant read) into the thickest part of the chicken. Cover the dish with a sheet of parchment paper, buttered on the side touching the chicken, tucking it around the chicken, and place the dish into the oven. Roast for 35-40 minutes, checking around 30 minutes. It will be done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Remove from oven to rest, slicing when ready to serve.
Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook turnips, flipping occasionally, till browned on all sides, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare sesame sauce: in a blender or food processor (I used my magic bullet) blitz Sesame Seeds, tahini, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, maple syrup, sesame oil and water together until creamy.
If not cooking the noodles separately, add them to the pan with the turnips. When noodles begin to soften, add the turnip greens and sautee until wilted. You may need to add some of the sesame sauce and/or a few tablespoons of water to prevent burning until the noodles cook. Add peanut sauce and continue to cook for a few more minutes just until the sauce warms.
Divide noodles and veggies into bowls and top with the sliced chicken.
*Depending on how hungry you are or how substantial you want the dish to be. I cooked 2, but only used 1 to top the noodles, saving the second for lunch the next day.
**I like to throw mine into the pan with the other ingredients (turnips and greens), they only take a few minutes to soften up and separate on their own as the rest of the veggies cook, and this saves the extra step and is one less pot to clean.
*** Any other green will do but the contrast of the bitter turnip greens against the sweet glaze is nice.