Hakurei turnips with spring onion and carrot

At farmers markets and grocery stores alike, the small Hakurei or Japanese turnip has emerged as the turnip of choice. The tender turnip first appears in the spring, but its season extends into the summer. Though at times even a bunch seems too small to be a good value, or deliver a good yield, consider other small-ish vegetables like radishes, baby carrots and baby fennel. Top selling points for these earliest of spring vegetables are their tender texture and sweet, mild flavor, which changes as the soil warms and they continue to grow.  And in the case of young, small turnips, they boast gorgeous green tops and stems that are edible.

If they are very small, as in the photograph below, don't bother to peel them. But turnips closer to the size of golf balls, should be peeled and trimmed leaving no more then 2 inches of stalk, depending on how tender the stalks are.  Cut larger turnips in half, to ensure that they cook evenly.

I think Hakurei turnips are best when braised simply in water, with herbs and other spring vegetables; I like to add sliced spring onions and carrots in two colors of carrots to the braise.  Finish the vegetables with a little bit of sweet butter and parsley, and serve them alongside any meat or fish dish.

makes 4 servings or one family style plate



2 bunches Hakurei or young turnips, 8 to 10 turnips per bunch

1 spring onion, or 1 large shallot, cut in half and thinly sliced

2 medium-size carrots, different colors if available, peeled and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Juice of one-half lemon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons finely minced flat leaf parsley or other soft herb like tarragon, chervil or chives



Place the turnips and 2 cups of water in a shallow, wide pan with straight sides and a lid. Add the sliced onion or shallot and a pinch of salt.

Cover the pan and bring the ingredients to a simmer. Gently cook 7 to 8 minutes before adding the carrots. Continue to cook another 7 to 8 minutes, adding more water if too much has evaporated or the vegetables appear dry.  Once the vegetables have softened and the liquid has mostly evaporated, add the butter, lemon juice and more salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Toss the vegetables in the braising liquid to coat them before spooning them onto individual plates or a platter. Sprinkle with the parsley or other finely chopped herb and serve.