Sunday, October 2, 2011

Roasted Turnips with Sorghum Syrup

Every year when the weather starts cooling off and fall crops begin showing up at the market, my husband begins examining my market basket hoping that he will not find an overload of turnips.  Don't get me wrong, he likes turnips, but he doesn't like them as much as I do.  It is a running joke at our house that I can put turnips in almost anything, and that is probably true.  Now, I know some of you are thinking the same as my husband that turnips are not really your favorite, but I believe they are a greatly underappreciated root and one that should be savored as often as possible.  This recipe, simple and delicious, is just the way to make that happen, and even my husband, who complains about turnips all fall, can't stop eating these when I make them.  They will make a turnip lover out of just about anyone. 

They begin with small or medium turnips which are cut in small pieces.  If the peel is not too tough, you can leave it on.  It is important that the turnips not be too large as they will be stronger and more bitter than smaller turnips.  The ones I use tend to be about the size of a child's fist (as long as your child is not a giant). 

They get tossed with a little olive oil, fresh thyme, salt and pepper and are roasted until tender and caramelized.  Now, I am sure you do other root vegetables in a similar method, but if you have never tried turnips roasted like this, you must.  They become caramelized on the outside, creamy on the inside, and almost candy-sweet.  At this point, they are ready for the syrup glaze. 

Let's talk about sorghum for a minute.  Southern Living magazine recently published a turnip recipe using sorghum.  In their recipe, the turnips were cooked in liquid rather than being roasted, but it got me thinking that the sorghum I had in the cabinet would be a great replacement for the honey I usually use when roasting turnips.  Sorghum is a popular syrup used in the southern US.  It is similar to molasses but lighter in color and not as strong.  It is derived in a similar way as sugar cane syrup but from a different type of cane grass.  It is sometimes difficult to find outside of the South.  You can purchase it online or use honey or maple syrup instead (like I have always done in the past).  You may even consider using molasses, but be careful as molasses is a little stronger and could easily overpower the turnips.  The sorghum gives the glaze a unique flavor while also sweetening the turnips a little, and I am happy to now have a use for sorghum beyond biscuits, cornbread, and desserts.  

Roasted Turnips with Sorghum Syrup
serves 3-4  

2 pounds medium sized purple top turnip roots
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons sorghum
1 tablespoon water
    Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
    If your turnips are large, peel them. If not, leave the peel intact. Cut turnips in 1/2 inch pieces. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle olive oil over to coat. Toss the turnip pieces in the oil on the baking sheet and spread them so they are in a single layer.  Remove most of the leaves from the thyme sprigs and sprinkle them over the turnips along with the salt and pepper.  Roast turnips for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and toss the turnips. Return to the oven for 15 minutes more, or until a knife can be easily inserted.
    Mix sorghum and water together in a small bowl. Remove turnips from the oven and spoon sorghum mixture over turnips. Toss and place pan back in oven for an additional 5 minutes until sorghum syrup coats the turnips. Serve warm.

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