Pickled turnips. I’m just going to put that out there. I wonder what you are thinking right now. Are you contemplating a face-scrunchingly acidic brine over a crunchy, but otherwise unremarkable root veg? Or perhaps your mind immediately pondered the way turnips are perhaps the least sexy of all the vegetables. The name itself sounds off-putting when you say it too many times. Turnip. TURNip. TurnIP. Say it how you like – it never sounds any more appealing.
Until yesterday, prejudiced by their utterly uncool name and hesitant because of unfamiliarity, I had never cooked a turnip. But I was set the challenge by my friends at Harvest Hub and I just never say no to a good kitchen adventure. I’m giving a few presentations at the Parklands Food Fest this coming weekend on making ‘Sensational Seasonal Salads from Local Ingredients’. Harvest Hub are sourcing me some super-local vegetables from farms around Horsley Park and Fairfield in Western Sydney.
On a phone call where we were strategising our vegetable game plan for the event, they told me that they could source me some lovely baby turnips. Now because of my aforementioned judgemental attitude to turnips – I had no recipes in mind but I thought “well, why not?” After all, that’s what seasonal salads are all about. Taking advantage of what is growing nearby to you – even if it is unfamiliar – and finding a way to make it delicious.
And it turns out pickled turnips actually are delicious! These ones are not a brightly coloured pink like the ones you get in a Middle Eastern eatery. I could probably have made them that colour by adding in some slices of beetroot. However, the red onion gives them a subtler purple colouring. I doubled down on the garlic and used a 50/50 vinegar/water brine with a little sugar and some black peppercorns. The results were sooooo good! So I stand humbled today, both sorry to have been so judgemental and reinforced in my conviction that local, seasonal eating is the mother of both deliciousness and invention.
If you are in the area come on by to the Parklands Food Fest on Saturday. I’ll be in the Homegrown Marquee. See you there!