My parents have a wonderful vegetable garden, and this year they decided to try planting some turnips. White turnips are a fairly recent discovery of mine, having first tried them thinly sliced and roasted with salt and pepper as chips (tasty!) But what I didn’t appreciate, until I saw them plucked from the earth, is how striking they are. Everything from the thick leafy green top to the fine root hairs of its white-fleshed root bulb to the sun-kissed purple where the “fruit” is exposed to air and light. So I began my next mixed media collage, attempting to capture the beauty of this root vegetable.
Wanting to try something new, I pulled out some watercolors to sketch the initial lines for the vegetable. Next I worked through layers of acrylic paint, pieces of my Dad’s old gardening notes, some vintage biology text book pages and brown paper bag for texture.
Gradually a palette of secondary colors emerged, the background hinting at rich earth browns combined with the purples and greens of the leaves and root. Fine tipped markers scribble snippets of a Robert Frost poem and root hairs in the details. Lastly I patterned the board with some threads of burlap, highlighting different colors in each section.
And don’t forget to try the below “Leek and Root Vegetable Gratin” turnip recipe from Better Homes and Gardens!
Leek and Root Vegetable Gratin
- 8 oz. mild cheddar or Muenster cheese, shredded (2 cups)
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, thyme, chives, sage, and/or chervil
- 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 large turnips or large rutabaga (about 1 lb.), peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 lb. russet potatoes, thinly sliced*
- 2 cups thinly sliced winter leeks
- 1 lb. large parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1-1/2 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- Assorted fresh herbs (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In small bowl toss together cheese and chopped herbs; set aside. Coat a 3 qt. rectangular baking dish with olive oil. Layer sliced vegetables in the following order, sprinkling salt, pepper, and 3 to 4 tablespoons the cheese mixture between each layer: half the turnip slices, half the potato slices, half the leek slices, half the parsnip slices, and half the sweet potato slices. Repeat, ending with sweet potato slices. Reserve remaining cheese mixture.
2. Cover with foil. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Remove foil. Sprinkle remaining cheese mixture over top. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Continue baking, uncovered, 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and starting to brown.
3. Remove from oven. Sprinkle additional fresh herbs. Let stand 10 minutes. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
*Kitchen Tip: Slice the russet potato just before layering to prevent discoloring.