The cousin of cabbage and broccoli, the cold-weather friendly turnip is a generous addition to this bleak time of year. —Stefanie Gans & Eliana Reyes
“You can just bite into it, kind of like an apple,” says Purcellville’s Quarter Branch Farm owner Kevin Grove, about his hakurei turnips. This Japanese variety—which grows well under row covers letting in light and rain, but shielding winds—tastes sweeter in the winter, and similar to the red fruit, is juicy, tender and soft. In fact, many root vegetables (beets, carrots) and greens (kale, collards) reveal sugary notes in chilly weather, says Grove. “When it’s hot it stresses the plant. They like the cold weather and they’re going to taste better.”
Potlikker’s roots stem from the days of plantations when slaves would keep the leftover, nutritionally infused broth of cooked greens. Growing up in Moultrie, Ga., Evening Star Chef Jim Jeffords dipped cornbread into pork-enhanced pottlikker, and today, he still turns to turnip greens for flavor, adding them to a red beet risotto of peas and poached egg.
One of the first successes of hitRECord, actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s online community of crowdsourced stories, videos and music, was the animated short, “The Man With a Turnip for a Head.” Fred, the turnip man, is embarrassed about his misshapen face and when he tries to obscure it, tragedy ensues. / hitrecord.org/records/655204