Oven-roasted turnips with lemon and capers

A few months ago, I got to thinking about what would be the next avocado toast, which then got me thinking about what would be the next Brussels sprout. And before either of those items became hot, we had the beet and goat cheese salad. I digress. 

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I'm not convinced that turnips are going to be that next "it" vegetable as chefs vie to make something unpopular catch-on. Turnips certainly get as bad of a reputation as the Brussels sprout or the beet – and for very comparable reasons to the latter vegetables.

The turnip has also suffered a combination of ill preparation by well-meaning parents and the long memories of diners that don't want to try something that disappointed them as a child. (I'm no stranger to a long dining memory: I didn't eat cheese - including queso and grilled cheese sandwiches - for 10 years of my life because of an atrocity committed to a baked potato at Jason's Deli in 1995.) Anyways, like the beet and Brussels sprout, there is a way to fix the turnip. You can remove much of the turnip's signature bitterness and mold it into a subtle earthiness. I add bold flavors, like capers, lemon and brown butter, that make the humble turnip a side dish that can stand up to anything from a ribeye to a delicate piece of seared fish. 

But why should you even buy a turnip? Why cook a turnip instead of a potato? Well, the turnip has more restorative benefits than a starch, and is packed with fiber, potassium, magnesium, calcium and even protein. This recipe is also gluten-free - it can be dairy-free as well if you leave out the tablespoon of butter at the end. 

The recipe below serves for 4-6 side dish portions. The recipe takes about 35-40 minutes all-in - 30 of those minutes are spent in the oven. 

What you need

  • 1 lb turnips (choose turnips that are about the size of a tennis ball)
  • 1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tsp capers
  • 1 tbsp butter

How to do it

Preheat oven to 425-degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or oil and set aside.

Peel turnips and slice off both the top and bottom of each turnip so that they can sit on a cutting board.  Chop each turnip into 1/2-inch thick wedges (see photo above for reference).

Add turnips to the sheet pan and drizzle oil over the vegetables. Use a spatula to ensure the turnip wedges are coated in oil. Then, sprinkle the turnips with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast the turnips for 20 minutes.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and using the spatula, flip the turnips to other side. Next, squeeze the lemon juice over the turnips, add the knob of butter to the center of the sheet pan, and sprinkle the capers across the sheet pan. Allow turnips to bake for 10 more minutes before serving while hot.

These robustly flavored turnips are great alongside chicken, beef and fish. It's hard to go wrong.

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. I like to add the leftover turnips to a power bowl.