Turnip Puree

IMG_2990-300x300Is anyone else getting a little bored with roasted vegetables? It seems to me that every simple recipe for root vegetables calls for salt, pepper, and an oven preheated to 350.
Don’t get me wrong, I love quick fixes and simple seasonings… but my taste buds have been needing a change!
Well, my palate found exactly the change it was looking for, as well as the inspiration for this recipe, from Harrisonburg’s Bella Luna.
The local wood-fired pizzeria Bella Luna served a lovely specialty dish: cured pork belly, sautéed spinach, and pickled carrots over a turnip puree… a refined twist on classical fare bursting with contrasting flavors and textures! I was surprised at how perfectly the simple turnip puree complemented the heartiness of the salty pork.
Previously, I had only enjoyed turnips roasted and certainly never cooked with them; but after trying Bella Luna’s pork belly over the turnip puree, I had to give them a shot.
My creative little recipe for mashed turnips and parsnips is probably a bit different from what you may be used to. Turnips and parsnips are starchy vegetables; similar but less starchy than potatoes. They have about a third of the carbohydrate content of regular white potatoes, making them a candidate for a lighter substitute in a mashed potatoes recipe. The result is less fluffy, but certainly just as flavorful. Root vegetables such as turnips, parsnips, carrots, and potatoes often appear in cultural Irish and Scottish cuisine due to their compatibility with the climate of the country. Perhaps a root vegetable mash like this one will find its way to your table on St. Patrick’s Day; a good idea can never come too early!

Here’s my recipe – a delightful way to explore new cooking techniques and discover a fondness for turnips! During the winter months, turnips and parsnips are in-season. You will find them in the produce section.


(yields 3-4 servings)
16oz., turnips, peeled and diced (approx. 2 medium turnip roots)
8 oz., parsnips, peeled and diced (approx. 2 medium parsnips)
2 tbsps., unsalted butter
½ tsp., fresh thyme
½ tsp., ground white pepper
¼ tsp., garlic powder
Salt and pepper added to taste


Peel and chop turnips and parsnips. Add to a large pot of water, and bring to a boil. Cover partially, and cook for about 20 minutes until fork tender. Drain the vegetables, and transfer to a food processor or blender. Blend to desired consistency.
To make the recipe go a bit further, you could certainly add a few potatoes. I tried to keep this recipe minimal by avoiding too much unnecessary fat and preserving the natural flavor of the vegetables. Certainly these mashed turnips served with a hearty meat or substituted for mashed potatoes in a meal ensemble are perfection.
Good luck, and happy cooking!


MadeleineMadeleine Wirth
Madeleine is a junior Dietetics student at James Madison University. Her interests include community nutrition and sustainable food systems. She enjoys experimenting with whole foods and preservation techniques, as well as exploring ways to educate people on adequate nutrition. Madeleine also enjoys the outdoors, running, and swim coaching children in the summertime. She is actively involved with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and the JMU Student Government. After graduation from JMU, Madeleine hopes to pursue a dietetic internship, obtain the Registered Dietitian credential, and educate children and families on the affordability, accessibility and importance of fresh, whole foods.