Tuesday, May 25, 2010

turnips rise to the challenge

This week, local food writer Lorna Yee of The Cookbook Chronicles is challenging her meat-loving self to go vegetarian for a week, and inviting other food bloggers to join her. A fun and worthy endeavor, but at first I thought I couldn't really participate, since we already cook vegetarian every week. Then I started thinking about how dependent my cooking is on milk and (especially) cheese, and how dairy production is almost as bad as meat from a greenhouse-gas point of view.  (Shorter food system problem: cows fart, a lot.) So I decided I'd challenge myself to add some vegan recipes to the blog this week.

My first dish, a salad of thinly sliced young turnips, comes from Cackalackyfoodie, a brand-new but already awesome food blog penned by a friend of a friend. The writer, Lynn, gives not so much a recipe as a brief description--a digression on her way to turnip gratin--but it was evocative enough to get me intrigued.

I suppose a vegetable salad doesn't sound like much of a stretch for this assignment. I mean, so I made a salad that was vegan--whoopdeedoo, right? But it's relevant in an unexpected way. Introducing her project, Lorna notes, "I’ve always wondered why we don’t hear people wax poetic about vegetables in the same way they do about meat. Why does the mere mention of  bacon cause so many of us to slide off our seats? Are vegetarians in general just simply more restrained in their food-love, or is it something else?"

The answer is: something else. Specifically, I think she just hasn't met the right vegetarian recipes yet. I know I positively swoon for garlicky greens served with poached eggs and toast. And a humble rice and cabbage soup. And unassuming boiled kale.  And that's just for starters. Hey, Lorna, you meat eaters can keep your bacon.

So that's where this salad comes in. Okay, so I wouldn't call it quite swoon-worthy, but it's much closer than you might imagine just from looking at the description of barely-adorned unpopular vegetables below. The truth is, even I was expecting a recipe that I wanted to like more than I would actually like it.  But it's scrumptious--cold, fresh, and crisp, the slight bite of the vegetables balanced by the fruity richness of the olive oil. A reminder of how delicious it can be to challenge yourself. 

Simple Spring Turnip Salad
Adapted from Cackalackyfoodie

This salad is good made an hour or so ahead and chilled, but I like it best the first day it's made.

1 bunch of small Japanese turnips, or a mix of turnips and radishes--about 8 oz. total
1 Tbsp mild, fruity vinegar (I used orange muscat champagne vinegar from Trader Joe's)
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp olive oil
A few sprigs of fresh thyme

Wash and trim the vegetables. Slice them crosswise very thinly using a sharp knife or a mandoline. Arrange them on a serving plate.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil. Pour the dressing over the vegetables.

Wash the thyme and pull the leaves off the stems, strewing them over the top of the salad.

Serves 2 or 3.


Lynn said...

Hi Sarah.

I'm so pleased (and humbled) that you found inspiration for what looks like a fantastic salad on my blog.

I'm tempted by your post to go vegan (for a while).

Best wishes,

Chef Dennis said...

I have rarely used turnips....and I have never thought of them in this way....thank you for opening up my mind to some new possibilities!!

Sarah said...

Lynn--your blog is full of inspiration, actually! Oh, and full disclosure--I'm not actually going vegan (that would require planning and coordination I'm nowhere near capable of), just trying to add a few vegan recipes here.

Chef Dennis--thanks for stopping by! Hope you enjoy the sald!