There are reasons why some recipes are classic. The ingredient combinations are so natural that you automatically turn to them, even when you aren't consciously creating a dish with a "name."
That happened to me last weekend. Here I was with several lovely turnips I bought at the Vang's Farm stall a couple of weeks ago at the Little Italy Mercato. I'd completely forgotten about them but being root vegetables in the refrigerator, they were very forgiving and ready to be used. I knew I wanted to roast them but I didn't really have a plan for how to flavor them.
So, I went into my little garden for inspiration. There was some tarragon I'd just planted, so I took several stems of that. There was a bush of Italian parsley, absolutely thriving due to the alternating rains and sunshine, and I clipped a bit of that. Ah, my Meyer lemon tree had a lovely lemon newly ripened. Perfect. And all that hard-neck garlic I'm growing have beautiful flowing greens. They wouldn't mind a little nip in a few places. Back in the house I pulled out some butter and olio nuovo from California Olive Ranch. Ah, a few cloves of garlic. And a bag of panko came out of the freezer.
I minced. I grated. I squeezed. I ran it all in my little mini prep blender and had what looked like Green Goddess dressing but was actually a variation on traditional gremolata--lemon, parsley, and garlic. True gremolata wouldn't have the fats I added, but I needed them in the roasting process.
The turnips got a bath in the mixture, and were then topped with the panko before going into a 425-degree oven to roast alongside a whole chicken leg rubbed earlier in the day with equal amounts of salt and baking powder for a crispy skin and then topped with minced fresh thyme and garlic butter from Bonelli Fine Food. After about half an hour the turnips were sweet and tender on the inside but had a wonderfully crispy exterior thanks to the panko crumbs. (The chicken was terrific, too!) Next time, I'll probably add either anchovies or capers to add a bit of a salty edge to complement the sweet root.
Serves 3 to 4
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons garlic greens, minced (optional)
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, minced
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves, minced
1 teaspoon Meyer lemon zest
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 to 1 1/2 pounds medium-sized turnips
1/2 cup Panko crumbs
1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a mini food processor, combine all the ingredients except the Panko crumbs and turnips. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings.
3. Combine the gremolata-style mixture with the turnips until they're thoroughly coated and place in a single layer in a roasting pan or baking dish. Sprinkle the turnips with the Panko.
4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until brown and a knife inserted into the turnips goes in smoothly.