Macomber Turnip “Fries”

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Photo Ben Gebo Photography

Ben Gebo Photography

STRATEGY SESSION: Both Macomber and purple-top turnips are low in fat and calories and high in fiber and anti-oxidants. They also have a low carbohydrate density and low glycemic index. My only strategic contribution to them in this recipe is the addition of macadamia nut oil, the healthiest neutral oil on the planet.

You’ve probably heard of “automatic writing”- in which the writer’s head doesn’t know what his hand is doing. Well, how about automatic eating- where the eater’s head doesn’t know what her hands and mouth are doing? It may sound wacky, but that’s how this recipe came into being.

It occurred during the photo shoot for this post.  Previously, I had always roasted the turnips. They were yummy, but soft and-well- unattractive. In order to make them look as good as they tasted, I decided to broil them for the photo.  I thought I’d brown them on the outside and leave them slightly undercooked inside so that they could be arranged in a pile without drooping. And that’s exactly what I did.

After the shoot, my photographer and I chatted as he packed his equipment and I plowed through the mess in my kitchen.  At one point, exhausted and ravenous,  I absent-mindedly picked up one of my just-for-show fries and took a bite. WOW! It was slightly caramelized on the outside—which enhanced the turnip’s sweetness—and it had an al dente texture that was  underscored by the crunchy sea salt I had used as a garnish. I’ve broiled them ever since.


Note: There is one problem with this recipe: If you don’t live in New England, you probably won’t be able to find Macomber turnips (the giant ones in this terrific photo by Ben Gebo), and you’ll have to settle for the purple-top variety. Because they tend to be more bitter than Macomber, I’d recommend roasting rather than broiling them. They’ll be soft, but caramelized and delicious. I have included the recipe for Roasted Purple-Top Turnips for your convenience (just continue scrolling down and you’ll see it).

Note: For more on Macomber turnips, see this week’s Odds & Ends column.

Macomber Turnip “Fries”

  1. Preheat the broiler with the rack approximately 4″ from the heat source.
  2. Place the fries in the bottom of a broiler pan or on a rimmed baking sheet. (If necessary do this in 2 batches, using 1 teaspoon oil per batch.) Drizzle with the oil and toss to coat. Season generously with salt.
  3. Broil the fries, turning every 1 to 2 minutes, until nicely browned on all sides. Serve immediately, with malt vinegar and sea salt, if desired.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: Calories 82, 2 g total fat, trace saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 14 g total carbohydrate, 4 g dietary fiber, 2 g protein, 154 mg sodium.

Roasted Purple-Top Turnips

  • 2½ pounds purple-top turnips, trimmed, peeled, and cut into “fries” about ½” thick
  • 2 teaspoons macadamia nut oil or other neutral oil
  • Salt to taste
  1. Set the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425º F. Place the turnips on a nonstick jelly roll pan or rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and toss to coat. Spread out in a single layer. Season generously with salt.
  2. Roast for approximately 30 minutes, turning several times, until nicely browned and tender. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: Calories 82, 2 g total fat, trace saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 14 g total carbohydrate, 4 g dietary fiber, 2 g protein, 154 mg sodium.


  • December 17 2009, 11:06 AM

    I just happened upon this site — I love it! (And I had no idea that shrimp was as high in cholesterol as it is.) I am quite fond of turnips, so I want to try some of your recipes. I also have a vegetarian daughter, so these recipes are particularly appealing. I like your emphasis on healthy eating, and your strategies. I realize you have your own thoughts, and ways, etc., but I’d like to suggest you give The Perfect Formula Diet a look. The author (Janice Stanger) includes all kinds of nutritional information and also discusses common nutrition and health myths. It’s a whole foods-based plan. Those who have endorsed it: Dr. T. Colin Campbell (author of “The China Study) and Drs. John McDougall and Joel Fuhrman, who are well-known in the area of plant-based nutrition.

    Off to copy the fries recipe…

  • December 17 2009, 11:17 AM

    I’m so glad you happened upon the turnip recipe and my website. I’m not familiar with the Perfect Formula Diet, but it’s always good to be aware of other people’s work. I’ll be sure to check it out. I appreciate the suggestion and hope you’ll return often to A Doctor’s Kitchen. If you’d like to be notified of new recipes, you can sign up for my newsletter in the lower right hand corner of the HOME page or follow me on Twitter or Facebook. New recipes are announced on both.

  • December 18 2009, 12:34 PM

    I told my daughter about the recipe last night. She seems dubious! She said, “you can make french fries out of potatoes, too!” Well of course you can, you silly girl! But as I pointed out, these would be more nutritious, and be something new to try. Ah, these 20-somethings… (she’s actually 21 — so I guess she’s barely a 20-0something.)

    Still going to try the recipe, though!

  • December 18 2009, 1:56 PM

    My 23-year-old son (who is a marketing maven in the food biz) eats them by the pound. He’ll even eat them cold! I can’t wait to hear what your daughter thinks. Keep me posted.

  • December 27 2009, 9:20 AM
    [email protected]

    Those fries are a great idea! The pictures are lovely and so much new information… I will visit again!

  • December 27 2009, 9:26 AM

    I’m so glad you found your way to those fries! They really are good. My son eats them like crazy (actually, we all do) and they’re so easy to make. (I have to confess that I’ve even eaten leftover ones cold- right out of the fridge!) I hope you’ll visit often and find things that appeal to you as much as the turnips do.

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