Has any other vegetable as many names as the humble Turnip?
What we call a turnip is called a swede in England, rutabaga in the US and neep in Scotland.
The turnip was first documented in Scandinavia and that is where the name Swede comes from. As turnip is a root vegetable during the Middle Ages, it was reviled by society as it was thought vegetables that grow underground are associated with the realm of the underworld and demons. Attitudes change and during the Renaissance turnip became widely cultivated around Europe, eventually being brought to Britain and Ireland.
Turnip though it goes by many names in various regions is almost universally cooked in similar ways across every cuisine. In Scandinavia, the rutabaga as they call it is mashed with butter and other root vegetables. Similarly, turnip is mashed in Scotland and eaten as a side dish along with haggis, and mashed potatoes, ‘neeps and tatties’, or the Scots call turnip that is mashed with potato, clapshot. Less traditional methods of cooking swede/turnip include roasting or baking small diced turnips seasoned with honey, chilli and some cumin. Turnip also makes a welcome addition to a stew, casserole or pie, it’s well known as an ingredient in a Cornish pasty. A modern and innovative use of the turnip is using it as the base of gnocchi dough in addition to some mashed potatoes. It adds greater depth to the flavour of the gnocchi and pairs well with sage and butter.
Turnip is quite high in Vitamin C, which means that not only is it vital for your immune system, but it also aids in the absorption of iron. Turnips also have a really high level of potassium, increasing your intake of potassium can lower risk of stroke, heart diseases and other cardiovascular issues. These root veggies are a rich source of calcium, magnesium, and vitamins C and E. They are also a good source of folate and provide small amounts of phosphorus and selenium
This month's Turnip at Keeling's Select comes from Alan and Mark Taylor from Lusk, County Dublin.