Turnips and cauliflower — easy to like but they have to work hard to gain your love. How many people do you see hovering around the cauliflower or turnip bin exclaiming, “It’s back at last”? Not an easy sell like asparagus but worth giving a try nonetheless. Baby turnips have an easier time of it. Their plump little faces are hard to resist and tender bright green leaves definitely help.
Cauliflower, on the other hand, seems much more awkward and just so white. Purity is a virtue but I can’t say I’ve ever had a cauliflower craving.
One aspect of consumerism I’ll be hard-pressed to give up is the excitement of seeing something new. It was this urge that lead me to the baby turnips at Full Circle Farm and to the cauliflower at Alm Hill Gardens last weekend at the University Farmers Market.
I’ll have to admit that I’ve had a thing for baby turnips after my southern friend, Cissy, sung their praises several years ago. Sliced and sauteed in butter, they can be a unpretentious treat. Add a splash of soy sauce if you like.
Or place them on a bed of lightly steamed turnip greens.
For the itty bitty turnips, cutting off the greens will give only a handful, barely enough to feed a very small rabbit. The best way to go with these is to steam the whole thing — greens attached — in 1/4″ of water, covered, for 3-6 minutes. If they are slightly larger, you can cut them in half or quarter them — just so the greens don’t get over-cooked while waiting for the turnips. Any of these methods will give you worthy additions for a stir-fry.
Roasting is my preferred method for cooking cauliflower. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut out the core and then cut into individual flowerets. Toss in a large bowl with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Add a couple cloves of garlic, if you like. Spread on a large baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes stirring or turning after 10 minutes. Remove when it is golden. Roasting concentrates the sweetness you may not notice when using other methods.
Cauliflower is also excellent eaten raw with a dip like Sally’s Green Goddess or Blue Cheese Dressing.