A Jewel of a Vegetable

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Although I most definitely consider myself a vegetable lover, sometimes I take vegetables for granted. I think of them as the workhorses of the food world, the dependable yet homely counterpart to their vibrant, flashy fruit relatives. But I’m doing veggies a disservice by valuing them solely for their interiors and not for their exteriors. My tatsoi experience reminded me that vegetables can, in fact, rival their fruit cousins in color and shape and simple beauty. At the co-op this week, I discovered another vegetable that easily outshines many – if not most – fruits. Enter the scarlet turnip:

Two vibrantly pink turnips, one intact and one cut in half.

Truly beautiful.

The colors in this photograph are very true to life; I gave this image the barest of tweaks in Photoshop. Although this is officially a scarlet turnip, I think it would be more accurately called a fuschia turnip or just an incredibly-freaking-gorgeous turnip. This vibrant shade of pink seems like something you’d find in a Crayola box, not in the produce section of your grocery store. Its interior is also striking:

A cross-section of the turnip, which is white with a star-like geometric pattern of pink dots.

Yes, this is a vegetable.

This looks like some sort of exotic tropical fruit and not a humble turnip, doesn’t it? It’s truly beautiful. Perhaps I should have found some way of cooking this striking vegetable that would’ve better preserved its color, but I ended up making a fairly simple Yukon gold potato and turnip gratin with it, a layered confection filled with an oozy, creamy sauce. The recipe isn’t quite perfect – who knew “plain” soy creamer is actually sweetened?! – so I’ll withhold it for now, but I will share a teaser photo:

A small casserole dish holds the gratin; you can see the slightly crispy, browned top layer.

Not as beautiful as its component pieces.

The cooked turnips retained a bit of their jeweled hue; each slice was suffused with a magenta undertone that almost made me hesitant to eat it… almost.

What’s the most beautiful vegetable you’ve ever encountered? What would you make with such a gorgeously colored turnip?

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7 thoughts on “A Jewel of a Vegetable

  1. Yes! That is a gorgeous turnip! Such a pretty starburst pattern in the middle.

    I happen to think radishes are often quite beautiful in much the same way as the above turnip. And eggplants, shiny black-purple eggplants. And tomatoes… especially some of the crazily striped things that turn up as heirlooms.


  2. That is a beautiful turnip! What color and the delicate design inside…and that
    gratin looks amazing.

    As far as pretty veg goes, I’ve always had a thing for chioggia beets, watermelon radish are also stunning.


  3. That is one gorgeous turnip! I never ever use them so I can’t wait to see the recipe for your gratin.

    I think lotus root looks really pretty once chopped up and purple garlic always looks lovely too.


  4. Pingback: Simplicity Sunday: Maple-Glazed Roasted Root Vegetables « la vida vegga

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