Cook The Veg Bag, Round 2: pickled turnips and savoury cabbage

My veg bag last week had a turnip in.  Turnips confound me, a bit.  Root vegetables which you cannot boil, mash and eat with butter on top?  White radishy things you cannot slice, raw, into a salad? All wrong.  If I had £400,000, it is safe to say that I would not buy my dream turnip.

And yet look at this purple marvel.  How can you hate anything that damn pretty?


The nicest turnips I could remember eating were not immediately recognisable as turnips, but rather, formed little piquant crunchy strips of vegetable in a good falafel wrap, tinted pink by beetroot.  I decided to recreate the crunchy pickled turnip – after all, I love pickles and pickling so much I actually have a dedicated pickle cupboard in the back porch where I put jars of chutney, pickle and jam to mature. ImageNo lie.

This was my first venture into cold water pickling.  I thought we all followed the same script for a thing, right?  Heat up vinegar and sugar and spices in a syrup, prepare the veg by salting it overnight to reduce water or peeling it or whatever, dunk briefly in hot liquor, put in sterilised jars, pour liquor over, let the heat seal it and voila.  But no.  Pickled turnips are just made using salt, and warmish water and a little bit of vinegar. I watched DeDeMed‘s video in increasing perplexity, and then I decided to live dangerously and make some myself.  I just peeled and cut up the turnips (and some carrot, because I’d already pickled all of my beets) and stuck them in briny, vinegary water like there was nothing to it.  Here they are:Image

I’ll let you know how they taste in a week or so when they’ve cured.

Pickles aside, I still wanted some actual dinner, so I started on the cabbage. At first I thought of cabbage dumplings, with the wrinkly leaves wrapped round a mix of rice and cheese and cooked in a savoury broth.  Laziness got the better of me, though, and I carefully took off the outer leaves, big enough for making sausage-shaped dumplings, and chopped up the finer, smaller inner leaves along with an onion, the remaining mushrooms and some garlic.  Together, these make a good basic stir-fry.

ImageTo give it a bit more flavour and texture, I threw in two tablespoons of sunflower seeds and some pre-soaked rice noodles, then doused the whole lot in a salty sauce made by swilling warm water round a Marmite pot that had been exhausted, but not washed, and adding soy sauce and a drop or two of tamarind.  That was just swank, though: a bit of soy sauce would have probably done fine.

ImageIt all cooked down into the kind of comfortingly umami, fresh-tasting downright-healthy-feeling dinner you just want to keep eating more of, with the mushrooms, noodles, cabbage and sunflower seeds all providing interestingly different textures:  Image

And that was the cabbage, onions, mushrooms, carrots and turnips done for.  Admittedly not all the carrots went in the turnip pickle: I ate the rest up, crunch crunch crunch.

Things from veg bag: turnip, carrots, cabbage, mushrooms, onion, garlic (from a previous week)

Things not from veg bag: sunflower seeds, rice noodles, salt, cider vinegar, Marmite, soy sauce.

Verdict: suspicious of pickles, but this cabbage dish is always good.

Published in: on February 20, 2013 at 5:59 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. …but you can boil and mash turnips! Perfect with Haggis and mashed Tatties!

    • Nope. What is perfect with haggis and tatties is swede (pronounced, in defiance of a decade in the South ‘swed’). Now that’s comfort food, mashed with a bit of butter and parmesan. Round white and purple turnips, IME, are too weird and crunchy to mash properly. Mashing them with butter seems to detract from their best features, their crunchiness and tanginess.

      • Apologies – I hadn’t paid enough attention to the scale of the turnip in your photo. You are, of course, completely right.

      • No need to apologise – turnips and swedes are one of those commonly-confused things which no-one seems to have worked out a linguistic map of.

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