Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pickled Turnips

Middle Eastern Staple: Pickled Turnips
Beautiful local red turnips from the Egleston Winter Farmers Market.
Red turnips, scrubbed and ready for peeling and pickling.
In my almost two decades as a vegetarian I've conquered nearly all socially stigmatized vegetables- brussel sprouts, spinach, cabbage, and even the dreaded lima bean- but turnips have always been a bit of a mystery. I've tried a handful of turnip preparations over the years- turnip fries, turnip mash, roasted turnips- nothing has ever quite satisfied. That is, until I discovered that most magical of Middle Eastern accompaniments, pickled turnips. I am of the firm opinion that  any dish tastes better with a pickle, and pickled turnips are no exception
to this rule.

Crunchy, tart, and earthy- they add a deeper flavor profile to any Middle Eastern dish,  go perfectly with hummus,  and are a snap to make.They are traditionally prepared with white turnips, and get their pinkish hue from a couple slices of beet added to the jar during prep.

 I discovered these red turnips at the Egleston Winter Farmer's market this weekend and decided to give them a try instead. I believe the taste and texture will be the same,  and they are already a bit pink, which is a nice bonus. For this recipe I used a fairly traditional brine and added fresh garlic and bay to the jar.

Middle Eastern Pickled Turnips (Turshi Left)

Approximately 2lbs of turnips- scrubbed, peeled, and cut into matchsticks
1 small beet- scrubbed, peeled and similarly sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic- sliced thinly

2 1/2 cups of white vinegar
1 1/4 cups of water
1/3 cup kosher salt

bay leaf (optional)

Place garlic slices, bay leaf, sliced turnips and beets into a clean, sterilized 2 quart jar.
Combine water, vinegar, and salt in medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until salt is dissolved.
Pour hot brine into over turnips and allow to cool to room temperature.
Once jar is cooled, cover and find a cool dark place to store for one week to allow the pickles to properly cure and the flavors to blend.
The pickles will look very light pink at first, but the beet slices will darken their color over the week.
Once the week is up, the pickles can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six weeks, though I doubt they'll stay uneaten for that long.

Enjoy on their own as a quick snack, as part of a mezze plate, or wrapped up in a Middle Eastern sandwich- they are an outstanding addition to hummus and compliment stuffed grape leaves beautifully as well.

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