Monday, January 14

How to Talk Turnips to Firemen: Roasted Root Vegetables with Maple Sage Glaze

I love to go grocery shopping early in the morning. It's usually just me, senior citizens, and the produce guys.

The other day, however, I noticed two firemen near the navel oranges. Then I saw two more near the squash. Why, I wondered, would four firemen be in the market at 7:30 am? (I wasn't too worried -- I figured if the market was on fire, they wouldn't be sorting through butternut squash).

Then when I went to get some turnips, I came upon two more firemen arguing over a parsnip.

"It's a turnip," the cute one said. "No. It's a parnsip," the not-as-cute one said. (Hmmm ... I thought all firemen were supposed to be cute.)

The cute one turns to me and says, "Excuse me, miss, but isn't this a turnip?" I looked at the long, white pointy vegetable in his hand, and said sympathetically, "Sorry, but it's a parsnip." He looked crestfallen. Which is when not-so-cute guy began gloating, "See, I told you it was a parsnip."

I excused myself and began selecting some rutabagas, when the cute one asked, "What's that you're buying?" Before I could utter a response, "not-so-cute" guy piped in: "It's celery root." "Actually, it's a rutabaga," I said. "No, that's celery root," he insisted.

At this point the entire fire crew had gathered around us. I could feel my ears getting hot, and I suddenly thought, "Oh, God, please let this be a rutabaga." Then the produce guy said, "It's a rutabaga." They all razzed not-so-cute guy, and I walked away quietly, vindicated.

When I got to the checkout, the cashier picked up my rutabagas (which didn't have a code on them) and said, "these are turnips, right?"

Rutabaga (front left) and turnip (front right).
Here's how to tell the difference between rutabagas and turnips: Rutabagas are slightly yellow and dark bluish-purple; they are usually larger and more rotund than turnips. Turnips, in contrast, are white with bright violet. Rutabagas will often have the tops and bottoms cut off, while the turnips usually don't.

I love roasting root vegetables. Doing so caramelizes them. With maple syrup and sage, this dish is pleasantly smoky and sweet and wonderfully aromatic. Plus you don't have to know the difference amongst any of the vegetables -- just toss them all together; they get along well.

Roasted Root Vegetables with Maple Sage Glaze
Serves 4
Print recipe only here.

1 rutagaba, peeled and diced
1 turnip, peeled and diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and several cranks of black pepper

3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium bowl, toss diced vegetables with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread vegetables in a single layer on an aluminum lined baking sheet (for easy clean up). Roast for 20 minutes. Stir and continue roasting for another 20 minutes.

Meanwhile in a small pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the maple syrup and sage to the melted butter and stir until combined. Pour over the vegetables, and stir until well coated. Roast for another 15-20 minutes or until maple syrup becomes bubbly and vegetables are tender when pierced with a fork.

Garnish with more chopped fresh sage before serving.

You might also like:
Baked Yams with Citrus Glaze and Toasted Pecans
Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Breadcrumbs and Lemon
Roasted Acorn Squash with Medjool Dates and Toasted Almonds
Crispy Breaded Cauliflower with Olive-Herb Tapenade

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Jacqueline Meldrum said...

The cashier must have been watching british tv programmes. Over here in the UK, rutabagas are turnips! We usually have them mashed or in soup. Traditionally in Scotland we call them neeps and serve them with haggis & tatties!

Peter M said...

Susan, funny read and informative...I'm going to show this post to my dad as we had a similar argument about Rutabagas.

Question, did you get any numbers from the firefighters?

Namratha said...

Hehe, that was a nice read! I sure as hell wouldn't have been able to differentiate between the two, coz i hardly use them in cooking. Your dish looks appetizing and worth the try. Thanks for the tips on the 'spot the differences' too :)

Toni said...

So what WERE they all doing in there at that hour? ;-)

Love roasted root veggies. Never thought of using any kind of sweetner with them, though, as they tend to be sweet. Hadn't thought of sage, either - that sounds great!

janelle said...

heehee. what a nice read to start my day. I love roasted veggies!!!

cindy said...

lol! firemen gotta eat too! they are pretty cute, huh! i think when they sign on, it instantly makes 'em 'hot'! me and my daughter recently went to a firefighter calendar signing...i got 'dipped' by mr. august! (like in dancing) THAT was fun! i love ' dad was a fireman.

Ann said...

I see our local firefighters in the grocery store a lot and it always gives me a warm fuzzy feeling (NOT THAT KIND!) to watch them carefully selecting food items. I know that firehouses pride themselves on good home-cooked meals. Hey! I wonder why there isn't a Firefighter Food Blog out there?! I just googled, but didn't find anything. :-(

Nice-looking root veggies you have there (you, not the firemen).

Ann said...

Um, that last comment was me. I sort of messed up my signature.

Wendy said...

Was going to say the exact same thing as Holler except that it's not actually the whole of the UK that calls what you call rutabaga, turnips - it's only Scotland. And what you call turnips, we call swedes!
Lovely recipe. :)

DermDoc said...

Firemen? What Firemen?

I need to start going to the market with you ...

Anonymous said...

I never have that much fun when I go to the market ;)
I love the idea of a maple syrup glaze...

MeloMeals said...

Beautiful picture and lovely sounding recipe.

Mike of Mike's Table said...

I think I get just as confused over the root veggies. I really like the idea of this dish and the color looks wonderful. Sounds like a tasty side I'll have to try.

swirlingnotions said...

So how would you describe the difference in TASTE between a turnip and rutabaga? I'm curious . . .

Le Flâneur Novice said...

You are FAR more cute than any other firemen Susan! :)))))))

I've never roast root vegetables. I guess will try this when I move to my house :)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

So of course I'm dying to know what these firefighters were planning to cook with their root veggies. Hope you run into them again -- at the market, not at a fire!

Tricia said...

i know how they feel. no matter how many times i get it figured out, when it's time to buy them again, i've forgotten. thankfully my favorite produce store has the nicest employees.

ExpatChef said...

The all-white turnips are sweeter than the purple tops if you can find them. Rutabaga ... I just love to say it. Maple-sage? Always a good thing.

Mishmash ! said...

"Hmmm ... I thought all firemen were supposed to be cute"...thats what i also thought:P

Brilynn said...

Ha! You tell 'em!

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

So funny. I just had this same conversation at Christmas. In Canada when I was growing up we always had rutabaga for our Christmas dinner. Here in the South it is Sweet Potato all the way!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Holler-Your names are so much more fun than ours. Neeps and tatties... I just love 'em.

Peter-No! I'm happily married. But who could not notice a cute fireman. Really? ;)

Namratha-Most people either love 'em or hate 'em.

Toni-I guess just the grocery shopping for the week.

Janelle-It's good to giggle on a Monday morning. :)

Cinderelly-You got dipped by Mr. August? That is HOT! ;)

Ann-I know I've seen a firefighter cookbook before but no blog. That is surprising.

Wendy-I didn't know all of that. I'm so glad I do now.

Jeff-But none of them were as cute as you, hon. Love you!

Linda-Come to my market--it's always an experience.

Melody-Thank you.

Mike-They are confusing. I hope you try it.

Swirling Notions-I find rutabagas to have a sharper, more bitter flavor than turnips which I find sweeter.

Bal-Oh, you've got to try them roasted.

Lydia-I wish I knew!

Tricia-I'm glad they're nice--it makes for a better experience.

Expat Chef-Interesting point about the all white turnips.

Shn-I know. ;)

Brilynn- :)

Judy-Oh, yes, I love sweet potatoes!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

So back in the old days, your produce aisle experience would have been perfect material for Abbot and Costello! You should offer "root vegetable training" for firefighters!

Manggy said...

Aw, you should've gone shopping with your camera so you could have taken a picture with the firemen. I mean, how often do you get to do that, huh? You could name-drop your blog and answer for us the question of the ages: do firemen know that food blogs exist? :)

Meanwhile, I am so jealous over your vegetables. Real maple syrup is extremely expensive here.

Sig said...

lol, thats a lot of drama for an early morning market run... :) Not-so-cute fireman??? That sounds like an oxymoron.. but then again, he sounds like a moron :D ..

Katy said...

haha! really funny. confusing celeriac with a rutebega, though? i think he was just trying to pick you up.

any tips on slicing root vegetables? my parents made a roasted root vegetable dish for christmas one year and only narrowly avoided slicing off their fingers. my dad swears he'll never make it again (too bad though -- it was delicious!).

Katie Zeller said...

What a hoot! I think, technically, a rutabaga is a just a yellow turnip...
Whatever, I love them... great recipe. What happened to the firemen?!?!?

Anonymous said...

We must have similar habits. I just bought a bunch of root vegetables while shopping early in the morning, and some firemen were in the produce aisle with me. Later, I had to explain the difference between a parsnip and a rutabaga to the cashier.

Anyway, I think I'll try this recipe - it looks good!

Unknown said...

hehehe aren't they just cute! great info about the vegies. it seems great!!

Suganya said...

I noticed some vegetable labeled 'black radish' at Whole Foods. Are they rutabagas too? They looked like the ones in yr pic, but smaller.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a big fan of root vegtables, but at the end of your article I saw the recipe for Baked Yams with Citrus Glaze and Toasted Pecans, and you made my day! I love Yams!


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Susan: They do get along perfectly together don't they? The veggies I mean not the fireman! What a great people story. Yes this is one of my very favorite combos for roasted veggies. Just can't beat it.

One Food Guy said...

Roasted root vegetables is one of those things that I look forward to when the weather turns cool in the Northeast. Add a little maple syrup and some fresh sage and the highlight turns to the side dish.

Suzana said...

Too funny, Susan! And those roasted veggies look great together - I'll have to try it, as it goes along just fine with maple syrup (which is an expensive and exquisite luxury to me!!).

Le Flâneur Novice said...

Susan I guess I will roast soon but need to learn something. Can honey be used instead of maple syrup as in some recipes?

Anonymous said...

I'm ashamed to say I get them mixed up all the time :)

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

My mom calls them swedes and she is from a British background. Rutabaga is the common American English term for the plant, while swede is the preferred term used in much of England, Wales, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. In the States the plant is also known as Swedish turnip or yellow turnip, while in Atlantic Canada, where turnips are relatively unknown, it is called turnip. In Scotland, it is either tumshie or neep, and the turnip or brassica instead is called a white turnip. Scots will refer to both types by the generic term "neep" (a contraction of the archaic pronunciation "turneep"). Some will also refer to both types as just "turnip". In North-East England, turnips and swedes/rutabagas are colloquially called "snadgies". They should not be confused with the large beet known as a mangelwurzel(mom says only the cattle eat those).....NOW ARE YOU REALLY CONFUSED.

Swati said...

Susan that was a real funny read...Thanks for the gud laugh...
Also it was an enlightment reading about the root veggies...and your idea of roasting them with sage n maple syrup not only looks great but am sure would taste great too..


Susan from Food Blogga said...

TW-Would I be Abbot or Costello, do you think?

Manggy-That would have been awesome!


Katy-Actually, I like to cut the vegetables into squares, then into even columns, then dice them. That way they're more stable on the cutting board, and you can make the dices uniform size.

Katie-I guess they went back to the station to cook lunch!

Carmen-Really? That is too funny!

Arfi-They sure are!

Suganya-Black radishes are actually dark colored radishes that resemble turnips. I think they're usually eaten raw like smaller radishes, though I saw somewhere on the internet that turnips and rutabagas could be substituted for them in recipes!

Maytal-That is one of my favorite recipes!

Tanna-You just never know what you'll encounter at the market around here!

onefoodguy-It is a New England kind of dish, isn't it?

suzana-Maple syrup is a luxury, indeed!

Bal-Yes, honey is lovely on roasted veggies. I posted on rainbow carrots roasted with honey, lemon, and fresh herbs, which you can find under "vegetables" in my recipe archive if you're interested. :)

Maryann-No shame at all. They're all so similar.

Bellini-Please don't quiz me on these! I'll flunk for sure. But I'll have a lot of fun trying to memorize those names--I love them. Thanks for your thoughtful and funny reply!

Swati-Oh, thanks, I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

zlamushka said...

wow Susan,

What a wonderful idea. I love roasted veggies.

Chris said...

Great post! I have never eaten Rutabaga, so I would have had the WTF look on my face if asked. :) I love the glaze and bet is a total multi-purpose one. Must try...especiall since its cold here - for once. A warm comfort meal..:)

Annemarie said...

I love your story. You can tell it's real, because it didn't end up with you in a mad passionate embrace with the firemen in the cookie aisle. :)
I did something with rutabagas recently that left me wondering, well, just what else I could do with them. The maple glaze sounds lovely...