Stay with me please, I know the word turnip does not inspire a lot of sexy vegetable glamor, but they are good! Turnips and root vegetables are the star of this little fritter, and we’re using the lovely tops as well.
We have definitely moved into root vegetable world! The markets are filled with carrots and leeks, potatoes and onions, beets and parsnips, rutabagas and turnips. If we are lucky, right now we can find Gilfeather turnips in our area, a big, ugly, sweet rutabaga that has the distinction of being Vermont’s state vegetable! It ain’t pretty but it’s good.
I was not lucky the other day when I decided I wanted the Gilfeather turnips, so I settled for some smaller, prettier ones with beautiful tops as well. I have made patties or fritters with turnips in the past, but I’d never added the greens as well, so I thought this might be an interesting replacement for parsley. It was delicious, and I always love it when I can use a vegetable root to stem.
It’s all about balance
To balance out the extra bitterness from the greens, I chopped up an apple as well. The apple added a delightful pop of sweet, but not too much so. If your turnips don’t have greens, use whatever greens look good at the market: Swiss chard, spinach, arugula, or just parsley!
The sage in my garden is phenomenal right now, so that is the herb I used. You can use whatever you like or have on hand that sounds good: chives, tarragon, rosemary, mint, etc., or a combination of any favorites.
Autumn Turnip and Carrot Cakes
1 tbsp. each butter and olive oil
1 small sweet onion, minced
4 scallions, minced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp. fresh sage, minced, or 1 tsp. dried
2 cups shredded turnips, squeezed to remove water
1 cup of greens from the turnips, minced
1 large carrot, shredded
1 apple, chopped 1/4 “
1/3 cup Parmesan, finely grated
Zest and juice of a lemon
1 large egg
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying
In a large heavy skillet or iron frying pan, melt the butter in the oil and when it stops foaming add the onion. Cook until softened, add the scallions, garlic, and sage and cook for another minute or so, until fragrant, then set aside to cool. Don’t clean out the pan, you’ll use it to fry the fritters.
In a large bowl, add the turnips, turnip greens, carrot, apple, Parmesan, lemon zest, juice, eggs, and mix well.
Add the onion mixture, getting every drop out of the pan,and combine again. Sprinkle the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper over all, and mix gently . If the mixture appears too wet, add a little more flour.
Reheat the frying pan over medium high heat and add oil to a shallow frying depth. Once the oil is hot, scoop the batter into the pan using an ice-cream scoop, or drop by tablespoons depending on how big you want your cakes to be. Reduce the heat to medium.
Brown on one side, but be patient. You want to see some crispness at the edges. Flip, and continue cooking until second side is browned.
Drain on a wire rack so the bottoms don’t get soggy.
Serve. These are delicious served with tartar sauce, or a simple horseradish cream made from sour cream and horseradish with a little lemon juice to thin. They make a nice brunch item, side dish, or a light supper.
Any leftovers are delicious served for breakfast the next day with an egg on top.
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