Coaxing Spring one Root at a Time

Spring turnips and radishes are the flavors of right now.

 It has been chilly this week, but we’ve had some breaks of sunshine in the spring rains. These blessed showers brought the green grass, and the trees are starting to leaf out as well. Perfect weather for the daffodils and tulips.

It does the heart good, to find locally grown roots and greens at our farm stands in early spring. The farmers coax those early spring turnips and radishes from the ground and offer them up proudly with all their glorious greens as well! After a long, cold New England winter, this is finally the colorful light at the end of a grey tunnel.

Tip of the root to top of the leaves, every inch edible

      Snow-white turnips, Easter egg radishes, and all those fresh tops! Don’t toss them; both of these vegetables have delicious greens that will round out your meal, and add so many nutrients we crave in this early season. Sweet and tender when young, turnip greens are an amazing addition to the spring plate. Radishes too! They are not just for salads, raw or cooked they add a tasty element.

Enter, a fried from the south

      I’ve added a little lift to this dish with some Meyer lemons, still in season although not grown here of course. If you can’t find them, any lemon will do, or even orange or grapefruit, or a bit of white wine vinegar in a pinch. The white wine adds its own little touch, and the honey mellows out any bitterness.

Use that braising liquid to finish the meal

      This is quick to put together and cook, and I make it with either shrimp or fish that I poach in the same braising liquid once the vegetables are done. Double duty for the liquid, and even more flavor for the seafood.

      It’s spring after all, we don’t have to simmer supper for hours!

Braised Spring Turnips and Radishes

New Vintage Kitchen Spring Root Vegetables
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. butter or vegan butter
  • 1 plump shallot, minced
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch spring turnips, greens and all, halved
  • 1 bunch spring radishes, greens and all, halved
  • 1/3 cup Meyer lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. native honey
  • Zest from the lemons
  • Chives and edible flowers to garnish

      In a large skillet, melt butter and add olive oil. Add the shallot and garlic all at once, and sauté for about a minute and a half, then add the turnips and radishes.

      Make this easy. First zest the lemons into a measuring cup (set aside a bit for garnish), then halve and squeeze the lemon juice into the cup. Add white wine to make 2/3 cup, then water to make a cup, add the honey and zest, whisk, and dump it all in. Sprinkle with salt and pepper

      Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Let cook 8 to 10 minutes, until a paring knife inserted into the turnips tells you they are tender. The radishes will be done too.

      Place in a serving bowl and sprinkle with garnishes.

Make it a full meal with fish or shrimp

      A delightful light spring supper. If you are serving this with fish or shrimp, take advantage of the beautiful braising liquid. Remove the vegetables from the pan and cover to keep warm. Place the fish or shrimp in the pan, cover and cook gently until tender, just a couple of minutes if shrimp, a few more if a white fish.

      Serve everything together with the liquid. Hearty appetites will want a little rice on the side.

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54 Comments Add yours

  1. Marilyndishes says:

    Using the greens is a delicious idea!

    1. So tasty Marilyn, and so good for us!

  2. NativeNM says:

    The lemony dressing sounds so refreshing on spring greens! Do you grow your own edible flowers? They are so pretty garnished on the side!

    1. I have pansies growing right now. When the weather warms, I’ll pop in nasturtiums, calendula, lavender, borage, chamomile, and other herb flowers. I also like to use lilac and rose petals as a garnish.

  3. Beautoful roo vegetable dish.

    1. Thank you Jovina! It was delicious.

  4. Suzassippi says:

    It looks so beautiful and sounds delicious!

    1. Thank you! I like to encourage those at my table to take the first bite with their eyes as my mother-in-law told me.

  5. CC says:


    1. Thank you very much! We loved it.

  6. It looks very colorful.

  7. Christy B says:

    How beautiful and colorful that plate looks ~ and full of flavor, no doubt! It’s finally starting to warm up here and actually feel like spring weather 😉 Have a wonderful weekend, Dorothy!

    1. Thank you Christy. It certainly felt like spring on a plate!

  8. gleeguilford says:

    That is a beautiful looking dish! Very Spring-y!

  9. Linda K says:

    We love radishes, but have never tried braising them so can’t wait to try something new (for us)

    1. I think you will be surprised. The braising definitely cuts their bite and brings out their sweetness.

  10. Averyl says:

    That’s gorgeous!

    1. Thank you! It tasted as pretty as it looks!

  11. Angela says:

    You make everything look so lovely. I sometimes roast radishes but also hadn’t thought of braising them. And those baby turnips!

    1. Thanks Angela! The turnips were so delightfully sweet and flavorful!

  12. Mary says:

    I think that’s brilliant using the whole plant. Top to toe goodness. The flowers make the dish look attractive. I would enjoy this dish but I am not a lover of radish so I would have to go all turnip or find another little vegetable to add in. Not really hard when there are so many lovely Spring vegetables waiting to pop into a lovely dish like this.
    Thanks Dorothy. :))

    1. You could use just about anything, asparagus, rhubarb, parsnips, etc. The braising really mellows out the radishes.

  13. The deep colored radishes are gorgeous and I love the pansies!

    1. The radishes tinted the braising liquid pink, it was a little bonus!

  14. CarolCooks2 says:

    Such a beautiful plate of food Dorothy I love that you use the whole of the vegetable root to tip plus using the same water to poach your fish..Delicious 🙂

    1. You know me Carol, I squeeze every drop of flavor I can out of everything! Thanks!!

  15. Bernadette says:

    Dot, this is a treat for the eye as well as the palate.

    1. Thanks Bernie! It was fun getting everyone dressed up!

  16. Nancy says:

    Sounds fresh and so delicious!

    1. Thank you Nancy. It really tasted like spring!

  17. What a nice flavor combination and great way to celebrate the spring! I have never seen turnips with leaves here, but will look for them at the organic store. As for the cooking process, I would change two things. Firstly I would add the greens later, as they need less time than the bulbs. Secondly I would turn off the heat when poaching fish in the broth. If the fish is thin, the residual heat will be sufficient to cook it through and keep it very moist.

    1. Thanks Stefan, I hope you find your turnip greens!
      Sometimes I do cook the greens separately, but this time the bulbs were so small I gave it a shot. The radish leaves wilted much more quickly than the turnips.
      Wise words about the poaching, it doesn’t take long at all, shrimp especially, It certainly can cook quite nicely with just the residual heat. Too often, shrimp gets overcooked and rubbery.
      Now what I’m really craving for this dish is some nice native rainbow brook trout!

  18. nancyc says:

    What a pretty dish! I love how you added in the flowers! 🙂

    1. Thank you! I just couldn’t resist Nancy!

  19. That is so pretty and then you added shrimp!!!! I would definitely try this.

    1. It was a really light and lovely supper Diane!

  20. Julia says:

    Typically, Southerners chop the greens on turnips. We also cook the small tender turnip roots in with the greens. I always felt like I found a treasure when I found a turnip root underneath the greens.

    1. It’s so funny, isn’t it! Turnip greens are not terribly popular in the north, but the roots are old stalwarts from spring through winter.

      1. Julia says:

        It is funny. I think it is because we can grow greens through the winter. In the South, there are even have breeds of turnips that have been breed for the greens. They have a tap root instead of the round root. I was very disappointed the first time I grew one one these varieties because they didn’t make roots that were eatable.

      2. How do you usually cook your turnip greens Julia?

      3. Julia says:

        These days, I follow Bobby Flay’s Smoked Chile Collard Greens recipe, using turnip greens instead of collard greens. I developed a taste for chipotle peppers having lived in Colorado for 25+ years.

      4. Good to know!

  21. JOY journal says:

    So pretty! I love radishes but never thought about eating the greens.

    1. They are a much neglected green! Most of the time, they are chopped off before the consumer ever sees them.
      Best when tender and fresh, good in salads and in a soup or stew.

  22. terrie gura says:

    Not a thing wasted, and the lemon is such a bright and tangy touch!

    1. Thanks Terrie! I’d have used some rhubarb, but it is not ready yet here!

  23. I love root vegetables. I love what you’ve done with these.

    1. Thank you! When I saw them at the farm, I knew they would be the star of the evening.

  24. What a beauty!

    1. Thank you so much!

  25. You make it look so easy and appealing! I tend to avoid the root veggies not because they taste bad I just cook them badly. This is encouraging! Hugs, C

    1. Try roasting them Cheryl, they still taste good if they are overcooked!

      1. See, you get me! 💕

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