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Salt Crust Roasted Turnip

One of my friends here on the Cape recently extolled the virtues of the local Eastham turnip, of which I had never heard (though I now know that they are so prized during their season that there is an annual local festival in their honor.) Of course, as soon as my friend brought them up, I saw some in the local gourmet grocery store and felt moved to try them.

I don't particularly like to cook turnips with other vegetables as I feel that they tend to take over. I eventually decided that a salt crust and roasting was a good way of elevating what can sometimes be seen be a ho-hum vegetable to being the star of the show and planned on serving the turnip on a bed of herbed couscous with rose-harissa and preserved lemon. Instead, having eaten my weight in baked beans and Boston brown bread, I had the turnips with a mixed salad and a rose harissa dressing.

No matter how you decide to serve this, this cooking method for turnips will be a revelation. The skin comes away as you crack the crust and you will be left with a pudding-y distillation of all things turnip. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but the custard-like texture of this was amazing. This would make a good appetizer course for a fancy-ish vegetarian dinner.

1 large turnip, well scrubbed

1 cup coarse salt

1 egg white

1 Tbsp finely chopped spring onion

1 Tbsp rose petals (optional, I just happen to have half a bag of them left from some other concoction and thought that they tied in well with the rose harissa in the dressing)

Heat oven to 425.

Using your hands, mix the salt, egg white, chopped spring onion and rose petals together in a bowl.

Top and tail the turnip so that it will sit flat; no need to peel it.

Mound a quarter of the salt mixture in a oven-safe dish; nestle the turnip into the salt. Pack the remaining salt mixture around the turnip, encasing it completely.

Place in the oven and bake until the turnip is tender when pierced with a knife, about 30–60 minutes depending on the size of the turnip.

Let the turnip cool for 10 minutes before cracking the salt crust open and removing it to a cutting board.

Slice it and serve as described above or whatever suits your fancy.

Inspiration recipe, here.


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