Sometime around the middle of last year Morgan stopped me in the fruit and veg shop and pointed to a round, white and purple, veggie and asked “What’s that??”
I am ashamed to admit that I had to read the label to answer his question. I hadn’t had much to do with turnips up until then, but that has certainly changed now.
After discovering what it was, we decided to buy the turnip and bring it home. We roasted that one a few days later, and while it was ok, no one was particularly in love with roasted turnip. The taste reminded me a little of parsnips, but not as sweet, and it made me think of the pasties (little meat and veggie filled pastries, not things with tassels!) my Nan used to make.
There is a particular trick to making pasties as good as my Nan’s. My Mum has perfected them, but I have no hope of that kind of perfection as I lack the tools of the trade, namely an old fashioned, cast iron, mincer to get the chunks of veggies just the right size. So I’ve broken with tradition and gone for my own, feed-a-lot-quickly-and-easily, version, using turnips!
These have now become a regular dinner in our household and we always make enough to ensure leftovers for lunch the next day.
- 1 onion, finely diced.
- 350 gm minced beef, pork, or lamb.
- 1 turnip.
- 8 (or more) potatoes, peeled.
- 2 carrots.
- 4-6 sheets of puff pastry.
- herbs, salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large pan, heat a little oil and cook the onion then add your meat, breaking up any large lumps and cooking till it is nicely browned.
- Using a food processor (or old fashioned mincer, or just chopped by hand) whiz up the turnip first till it is finely chopped and pop it in the pan with the meat and onions.
- Then whiz up the carrot and potatoes, they can be slightly larger pieces if you like, and pop them in the pan too.
- Season with salt and pepper and herbs of your choice and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until the veggies begin to soften.
- Let the mixture cool and defrost 4-6 sheets of pastry while you wait.
- Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius (about 420f) and line a tray with baking paper.
- I make our pasties in big long logs because it is quicker and easier that way, but you can make them any shape and size you like.
- So I lay our two sheets of pastry, slightly overlapping in the middle and pile the mixture along the middle. Then, using the baking paper to help me I bring the sides of the pastry up to the middle and fold in the ends to keep it all secure, and that's it.
- Into the super hot oven for 15 minutes or until the pastry is nice and brown and flaky, then turn the oven down to 150 C (300F) and cook for a further 25-30 minutes.
- Cut slices and server with lots of tomato sauce!
- You can easily play around with the amounts of meat and veggies in this recipe, depending on how many pasties you want to make, what you like and what you have available.
So now that we know what to do with the pretty purple turnips, we decided we’d have a go at growing them!
I didn’t hold much hope when Morgan picked the seed variety from the catalog. Our soil is clay, often rock hard clay, and things that grow in the ground, like a carrot, or a parsnip, don’t do well. But to my surprise we grew lots of big round purple turnips over the spring and summer. I can’t tell you how to grow turnips as we planted ours too close together and grew them with complete neglect, save for a bit of water now and then, so perhaps it was more luck than skill. But still, there is nothing better than planting a seed and then, one day, eating what you’ve grown!
Have you ever had anything to do with turnips? How do you like to eat them?