Maple roasted turnips are complemented by salty bacon and crispy shallots, and this easy one-pan dish is a perfect side dish or brunch!
When you were a kid, did you ever read those American Girl books? Molly was my favorite. That was, of course, back in the day when there were only 3 AG dolls, not a rotating cast of thousands and glossy outposts on some of the highest-rent streets in the world. Ah, the humble, pre-Mattel American Girl days. Back then, it was easy to choose: you were either a Kirsten (blond, hearty, sporty), a Samantha (glamorous, possibly-but-not-necessarily brunette, probably popular), or a Molly (nerd, allergic to sports, glasses mandatory). I was a Molly (no pictures. long ago had them all destroyed. DO NOT LOOK FOR THEM.).
No matter how old I get, I will never stop associating turnips with Molly. If you’re either not familiar with the books, or don’t have a mind that holds on to useless trivia like a steel trap (but releases important information like names of people you just met 20 seconds ago) like I do, here’s the gist of it: Molly’s story takes place in the middle of World War II, during which time food was rationed and people grew a lot of what they ate. Molly’s family is having turnips for dinner, and Molly is not allowed to leave the table until she finished them which, of course, she’s having trouble doing because they’re – in the book, according to Molly – terrible. Until someone – her mom? her housekeeper? I dunno. The books are packed in a box somewhere and I don’t feel like digging them out. – surreptitiously reheats her turnips with some (forbidden! highly rationed! worth its weight in gold!) butter and sugar, thus rendering the turnips palatable and an entire generation of young women highly suspicious of this root vegetable that they probably hadn’t ever tried for themselves before.
If you were a mousy, brown-haired, bespectacled child, Molly was your leader and if she didn’t like turnips, then turnips were dead to you.
But with all due deference to Molly, I don’t know where her turnips came from because once I finally tried turnips, I was surprised to find them appealing. More than appealing, actually: delicious. Like most root veggies, their starches roast up into a sweet, tender bite that only needs the slightest encouragement from some fat (olive oil, in this case) and natural sweetener like maple syrup, to caramelize the outsides. If you like roasted carrots, give turnips a try too.
And what’s not to love? Besides a little peeling and chopping, it’s mostly just a bit of hands-off cooking time standing between you and a delicious and healthy-ish (we’re counting bacon as healthy, right? I presume yes?) one pan dinner. Plus, of course, there’s bacon.
PS: I made this recipe several times using Hakurei (white) turnips, but added some watermelon radishes to the final batch for variety and, I admit, visual interest. You can mix it up however you want, if you want, by mixing the turnips with radishes, carrots, or almost any other starchy root vegetable you can think of. Or you can follow the recipe and use all turnips, and it will still be delicious!
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive or coconut oil divided
- 2/3 lb turnips peeled and sliced
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- Generous pinch sea salt
- 1 large shallot or 2 small, s, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/4 lb good quality bacon pork or turkey, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon roughly chopped fresh rosemary for finishing or to taste
Preheat the oven to 400F. Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to a large oven-safe pan or baking dish (cast iron is best) and swirl it around to coat the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
Place the prepared turnips in a large mixing bowl.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of the oil, the maple syrup and the sea salt.
Pour maple syrup mixture over the turnips and toss to coat.
Transfer the turnips to the prepared pan, then sprinkle the shallots over the turnips.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, then add the bacon and toss to combine all of the ingredients in the pan.
Bake for another 20-30 minutes until turnips are soft and bacon and shallots are crispy.
Remove from oven, sprinkle with fresh rosemary, and serve immediately.
Leftovers make an excellent breakfast, especially topped with a fried or poached egg.
I made this recipe several times using Hakurei (white) turnips, but added some watermelon radishes to the final batch for variety and, I admit, visual interest. You can mix it up however you want, if you want, by mixing the turnips with radishes, carrots, or almost any other starchy root vegetable you can think of. Or you can follow the recipe and use all turnips, and it will still be delicious!
Yield: Approximately 4 servings, but it all depends on how hungry you are.