Our local farmer's market had bunches of the most beautiful, pale white baby turnips. When I get produce this good, I like to showcase it by using every edible part.
For this salad, I cooked the turnips themselves sous vide with butter, lemon juice and garlic, then sliced them in half around the equator so that they could stand up on the plate, proudly flying a bit of stem or squiggly root.
I also pickled some of the stems, and the greens were so young and tender that they were deliciously peppery eaten raw.
Turnips have a bit of a radishy character to me, which made me think to serve them with little crispy rye toasts. A sprinkle of candied caraway emphasizes the rye. (And interestingly, candying caraway seeds seems to bring out their anisey notes.)
Cooking vegetables sous vide retains more of their natural flavor, and it can be a much simpler affair than with animal foods. The temperatures don't need to be nearly as precise, so it is quite feasible to do this on a stovetop, regulating the heat just by adjusting the burner. You can attach an instant read thermometer to the pot using a binder clip. Of course if you don't feel like cooking the turnips sous vide, I've provided alternative instructions below for simply braising them in a small pot.
For the turnips:
- 12 baby turnips, washed, 2" of stem and all of tip left intact (reserve leaves and stems)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 peppercorns
- (sous vide 45 mins at 185 / 85)
- Combine all ingredients in a sous vide-capable bag and evacuate air. If you are doing this manually with a zipper bag, Dave Arnold has an excellent explanation in this post; search for "Packing without the vacuum". If you don't want to cook them sous vide, combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, cover, and simmer until the turnips are tender.
- Cook in simmering water (185 F / 85 C) for 45 minutes. Make the sure the turnips are tender, then discard everything else.
For the pickled turnip stems:
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 12 segments of baby turnip stems, 2-inches long
- Combine vinegar, sugar and salt in a small microwave-safe bowl and stir to dissolve. Add the turnip stems and microwave on high for one minute. Reserve.
For the candied caraway seeds:
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Line a plate with parchment paper. Combine the caraway seeds and sugar in a small saute pan. Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar melts and caramelizes lightly. Carefully transfer seeds to parchment paper and allow to cool, then break up gently by hand or with a mortar and pestle.
To complete the dish:
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 8 paper-thin slices of rye bread, about 2-inch by 1-inch.
- 1 tablespoon whipped cream cheese mixed with 1 teaspoon minced fresh dill
- 8 baby turnip leaves, washed and dried
- Chive blossoms
- Fennel leaf sprigs
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Flaky sea salt (preferably Maldon (aka the world’s greatest salt))
- Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Toast the rye bread in the butter until lightly brown on both sides. Remove and allow to cool, which will make it crispy. Put a tiny scoop of the cream cheese on each piece of bread.
- Cut the turnips in half around their equator. Arrange 3 bottom-halves and three top-halves around the plate. Lean the rye pieces against the turnips.
- Garnish each plate with 2 turnip leaves, 3 of the pickled turnip stems, some of the candied caraway seeds, a few chive blossoms and fennel sprigs, a generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of the flaky salt.