If I’m going to be honest, then I have to admit that turnips are not my favorite vegetable. Oh, I don’t hate them. If someone serves turnip to me, I can eat it and still maintain a pleasant expression. (But then, that is true with me for most food. I am not a picky eater. I am a good eater.) However, turnips certainly don’t make my taste buds soar the way sugar-snap peas, corn, and cucumbers do.
What to do, then, with the turnips, so hard and white, tucked in the CSA box that Farmer Kev delivered a couple of weeks ago? I had put the turnips in a bowl with water and then had put the bowl in the refrigerator. I change the water every few days, and the turnips have remained plump and hard. But I knew the turnips couldn’t stay this way forever, and the time had come to eat them.
Clif suggested, “Make them into patties.” Clif loves patties—almost any kind—the way some people love chocolate.
“All right,” I said. I had done this last year, but I hadn’t kept the recipe, so I rooted on the Internet and found one at Simply Recipes. I used that recipe as a guideline, but I made enough changes so that I can safely call it my own.
Because turnip and potatoes cook at different rates, I boiled them in separate pans—the potatoes took about fifteen minutes and the turnip was closer to twenty. When the vegetables were soft, I drained them, put them in a bowl, and mashed them with a fork. When the potatoes had cooled, I added 2 small cloves of chopped garlic, 1/2 cup of grated cheddar cheese, 1 beaten egg, 1/4 cup of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and several grinds of pepper. Clif, who loves frying patties as well as eating them, dropped them by large spoonfuls into hot oil in a cast-iron frying pan.
As the patties turned a lovely, golden brown pan, I had a good feeling about them. Surely something so visually appealing would taste good. And readers, they did.
Clif pronounced the patties, “Pretty darned good,” which in Yankee parlance is the equivalent of delicious. We sprinkled salt on top of the cooked patties and spread a dollop of mayonnaise. As I ate my turnip patty, I not only had a pleasant expression on my face but also a smile. Clif was right. The turnip patties were tasty.
If someone wanted to get fancy, then he or she could make some kind of aioli to go with the patties. But this was a Thursday night supper, and mayonnaise worked just fine. I made corn bread to go with the patties, and a beet green salad with shredded carrots, sunflower seeds, and feta.
I have two more turnips in the bowl of water in the refrigerator, and I know what the turnips’ fate will be—more patties. This year, I’ll keep the recipe, with all its hand-written amendments, and file it in my veggie recipe folder. That way, next year, I’ll know just what to do with turnips.
Turnip and Potato Patties (Adapted from a recipe on simplyrecipes.com)
Makes four to six patties
1 1/2 cup of peeled and cubed turnip
1 cup of peeled and diced potatoes
1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, minced
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup of flour
1/2 cup of grated cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Several grinds of pepper
In separate saucepans, boil the turnip and the potatoes. The turnip will take about twenty minutes, and the potatoes will take about fifteen minutes. When the vegetables are very soft, drain them, combine them in a bowl, and mash them with a fork. When the mashed mixture has cooled, add the garlic, the egg, the flour, the cheese, the salt, and the pepper.
In a heavy frying pan—seasoned cast iron works best—heat about 1/4 inch of oil until it starts to shimmer. Drop the mixture by large spoonfuls into the pan and press them thin, about 1/2 inch. (We used two cast iron frying pans so that we could cook the patties all at once.) Fry the patties until they are a lovely golden brown, about four minutes on each side.
Serve with more salt and pepper. Add a dollop of mayonnaise and rejoice that humble turnip can taste so good.