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How to Talk Turnips to Firemen

by Susan Russo
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rootvegsonboard.jpgI love to go grocery shopping early in the morning. It's usually just me, senior citizens, and the produce guys.

The other day, however, I noticed two firemen near the navel oranges. Then I saw two more near the squash. Why, I wondered, would four firemen be in the market at 7:30 am? (I wasn't too worried – I figured if the market was on fire, they wouldn't be sorting through butternut squash).

Then when I went to get some turnips, I came upon two more firemen arguing over a parsnip.

"It's a turnip," the cute one said. "No. It's a parnsip," the not-as-cute one said. (Hmmm ... I thought all firemen were supposed to be cute.)

The cute one turns to me and says, "Excuse me, miss, but isn't this a turnip?" I looked at the long, white pointy vegetable in his hand, and said sympathetically, "Sorry, but it's a parsnip." He looked crestfallen. Which is when not-so-cute guy began gloating, "See, I told you it was a parsnip."

rootvegsonboard.jpgI love to go grocery shopping early in the morning. It's usually just me, senior citizens, and the produce guys.

The other day, however, I noticed two firemen near the navel oranges. Then I saw two more near the squash. Why, I wondered, would four firemen be in the market at 7:30 am? (I wasn't too worried -- I figured if the market was on fire, they wouldn't be sorting through butternut squash).

Then when I went to get some turnips, I came upon two more firemen arguing over a parsnip.

"It's a turnip," the cute one said. "No. It's a parnsip," the not-as-cute one said. (Hmmm ... I thought all firemen were supposed to be cute.)

The cute one turns to me and says, "Excuse me, miss, but isn't this a turnip?" I looked at the long, white pointy vegetable in his hand, and said sympathetically, "Sorry, but it's a parsnip." He looked crestfallen. Which is when not-so-cute guy began gloating, "See, I told you it was a parsnip."

I excused myself and began selecting some rutabagas, when the cute one asked, "What's that you're buying?" Before I could utter a response, "not-so-cute" guy piped in: "It's celery root." "Actually, it's a rutabaga," I said. "No, that's celery root," he insisted.

At this point the entire fire crew had gathered around us. I could feel my ears getting hot, and I suddenly thought, "Oh, God, please let this be a rutabaga." Then the produce guy said, "It's a rutabaga." They all razzed not-so-cute guy, and I walked away quietly, vindicated.

turnipsandrutabagasraw.jpgWhen I got to the checkout, the cashier picked up my rutabagas (which didn't have a code on them) and said, "these are turnips, right?"

Here's how to tell the difference between rutabagas and turnips: Rutabagas are slightly yellow and dark bluish-purple; they are usually larger and more rotund than turnips. Turnips, in contrast, are white with bright violet. Rutabagas will often have the tops and bottoms cut off, while the turnips usually don't.

I love roasting root vegetables. Doing so caramelizes them. With maple syrup and sage, this dish is pleasantly smoky and sweet and wonderfully aromatic. Plus you don't have to know the difference amongst any of the vegetables – just toss them all together, they get along well.

 

Roasted Root Vegetables with Maple Sage Glaze
Serves 4

1 rutagaba, peeled and diced
1 turnip, peeled and diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and several cranks of black pepper

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium bowl, toss diced vegetables with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread vegetables in a single layer on an aluminum lined baking sheet (for easy clean up). Roast for 20 minutes. Stir and continue roasting for another 20 minutes.

Meanwhile in a small pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the maple syrup and sage to the melted butter and stir until combined. Pour over the vegetables, and stir until well coated. Roast for another 15-20 minutes or until maple syrup becomes bubbly and vegetables are tender when pierced with a fork.

Garnish with more chopped fresh sage before serving.

 

Originally published on Food Blogga, a blog by Susan Russo, a writer from Rhode Island now based in San Diego.

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