Turnip Salad with Avocado and Sesame

Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews

A lovely low key summer dish to make at home in a matter of minutes

A photo of several dozen white turnips with their leafy tops still attached.

Turnips, in the 21st century, often get short shrift. While many other vegetables have gained fame and acclaim, turnips, to this day, are all too often left for making soup or stock and far too frequently left out of the culinary conversation.

Here’s an easy and tasty way to make them a highlight. It features the tender, lively, and lovely young Hakurei turnips that so many local farmers around these parts have taken to growing. It’s a Japanese variety that, in seed catalogs, are generally described as “crisp,” “juicy,” and “really good raw,” all of which mesh nicely with my experience of eating them.

To make the turnip salad, take the greens off the turnips (don’t throw them away. You can saute and use them in other dishes, like the revueltos I wrote about last month). Slice your turnips about half an inch thick and saute in olive oil. Add a sprinkle of sea salt while they’re cooking. When they’re al dente—softish, but not mushy, and maybe lightly browned around the edges—remove the cooked turnips from the pan with a slotted spoon and set on a plate.

Cut a ripe avocado into slices and arrange next to the turnips. Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and a good amount of black pepper. Dress with a little apple cider or white wine vinegar and a good bit of extra virgin olive oil. I prefer a more buttery one for this, maybe the ROI oil that’s part of the summer sale, made from the tiny Taggiasca olives from Liguria.

Sprinkle the salad with a liberal amount of toasted sesame seeds—it should look like the crust of a loaf of the Bakehouse’s lovely Sicilian Sesame Semolina bread. I love the seeds we get through the good graces of the small quality-focused firm of Daphnis and Chloe. Grown in northern Greece in a village near the border with Bulgaria and Turkey, they’re an old variety that has almost disappeared in modern times!

I’ve been mostly eating the turnip salad in this vegan form, but it’s also great with some broken bits of cheese on top—Parmigiano Reggiano, the Pascualino from western Spain, Dry Jack, or feta all work well.

Eat with a slice of Rustic Italian or Paesano bread from the Bakehouse to finish up any oil and vinegar left in the bowl! Enjoy!