I have no idea where the phrase, “didn’t just fall off the turnip turnip truck” originates. In fact, if you talk with my 93 year old grandmother, she’ll tell you that the milk truck was actually more hazardous. Evan Morris believes it is an example of a catch phrase based upon urban-rural rivalry.
In other words, it’s an “I’m not naive and I wasn’t born yesterday statement” or as Evan translates it “I am not a an ignorant country bumpkin who just arrived in the big city on a truck full of lowly turnips that I was dumb enough, on top of everything else, to fall off of.” My next reaction is to wonder why it is so often that I’ve heard turnips proceeded by the adjective ‘lowly’. I mean, I’ve never heard anyone describe a beet or a carrot or kohlrabi as lowly but in contemplating this, I decide that if lowly means humble, I might enjoy turnips even more. Nutritionally, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Turnips, when eaten with their greens, pack an enormous punch. They’re rich in vitamins A, C and in Calcium. In fact, turnip greens are more nutrient dense in calcium than milk.
Suddenly, I have endless possibilities for this post. By enrolling in our CSA and advocating the same position for others, I’m already buying into the rural side of the urban-rural rivalry. Sure I live in the city but I prefer slow food, harvested locally and without pesticides reminiscent of my rural ancestry in Kansas. And knowing that turnips make a generous contribution to the health and wellness of my family cause me to want to climb right into the back of the flatbed. Heck, given that it’s National Poetry Month, I find myself scratching out an ode to the Turnip to post on Jessie Carty’s Thursday poemshare.
The reality is that each year, turnips are probably the most challenging element of my CSA. I enjoy the small white dense Hakurei variety but the purple and white ones with their distinct flavor are more difficult. Over the years I’ve disguised them in many dishes and Mr. Neep has been most helpful with ideas including the turnips in white sauce that I can serve for company. Still, when a 3 lb turnip arrived in my CSA bag this week, I was a bit perplexed.
- 1 large turnip or several small, peeled and cut in half
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 lb sausage (I used local chicken sausage with basil and sundried tomatoes) or 1/2 lb cooked white cannellini beans for a vegetarian option
- 1 bunch of swiss chard, chopped fine
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
- handful coarse sourdough bread crumbs
- 1/2 tsp salt
- ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan