In praise of beetroots and turnips

Honey and salt-riasted walbuts that are part of the beetroot salad
Honey & salt roasted walnuts

Thing 2 of my 21 things for 2021 is to choose a different vegetable every week from the book In Praise of Veg and make a recipe from the book using that vegetable. 


First up this week was beetroot, specifically the Beetroot and Honey-roasted Walnut Salad (page 242).

I started the prep for the salad last Sunday night when I roasted the beetroots and the walnuts. I’d never honey roasted nuts before. Sprinkle them in salt and drizzle with honey and roast for a few moments while the beets are baking. Takes no time at all and you end up with these beautiful sweet and salty walnuts that are so good that you eat them all and need to make more for the salad.

Or is that just me?

This was a great recipe that was enough for lunch as a main course for three days. The hardest part was peeling the cooked beetroots. I think I needed to make sure they were fully submerged in the water because the parts that were, were a lot easier to peel than the parts that were dry. 

Beetroot salad with honey and salt roasted walnuts, baby spinach and blue cheese
The completed salad


On Saturday, I decided to cook Alice’s Cider-braised Turnips with Sourdough Crumb (page 228).

The first sign that this was not going to go to plan was a call from Slabs at the supermarket to tell me that there were no turnips. 

Um. No turnips. That’s kind of the point of the dish.

They have Swedes. Shall I get those instead?

Well, Alice tells me that the swede (aka rutabaga) can be used in place of turnips. Swede is, so she says, believed to be a hybrid of turnip and cabbage and was probably cultivated in Scandinavia in the 16th century. In fact, a google search led me here and tells me that a swede is a Swedish turnip.

Looks like I’m using swede in the dish then.

Six swedes on a kitchen benchtop
Swedes. Not turnips.

The recipe calls for baby turnips. I had no idea how big they are so I figured cutting the swedes into eights could replicate a baby turnip. Quarters probably would have worked too; I just would have had to cook them longer.

The other ingredient I didn’t have was juniper berries. Alice says caraway seeds can also go well with these vegetables, so that’s what I used. 

It was a simple matter of cooking the turnips (I mean swedes) with some chopped celery, shallots, chicken stock and cider (which I didn’t drink!) until they were soft, and then topping the dish with the sourdough and parmesan topping, grilling it, and that was it. My solution to not having bread crumbs was to lightly toast some sourdough and then crumble it up.

The completed cider-braised swede dish from In Praie of Veg
The finished dish

This was a great recipe for a light dinner and I imagine you could bulk it up a bit if you wanted with a grain like cous cous, or even pasta. It would also work as a side dish or, as Alice suggests, as a lunch salad by tossing leftovers with some rocket and goats cheese or feta. Unfortunately, there were no left overs so I couldn’t try this out. Perhaps next time when I have actual turnips and juniper berries.

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