I love the idea of community gardens and alotments – shared patches of land that people work together to grow food. Eating is such a communal activity, it seems right that growing food should be as well. We get a box of vegetables delivered to us each saturday, and I feel like a kid on Christmas morning as I lift out all of our treasures. And then through the week we visit the farm to pick certain crops that are in season. The boys like to come, too (especially when it’s raspberry season) and they’re a big help in filling up my baskets. It’s a joy to watch them meander through glowing green rows of sweet peas and tomatoes, following the dizzy paths of bees buzzed on sunshine; so pleased with themselves when they find plump, warm vegetables. It’s wonderful to get vegetables I know we love, of course, but it’s a fun challenge to get some we’re not as familiar with, as well. I love dreaming up recipes that will make any vegetable taste good.
This first week wasn’t a challenge at all! I love everything we got – spinach, chard, kale, leeks and … turnips!! Turnips are among my favorite vegetables. And these were beautiful little spring turnips, creamy white and sweet. They didn’t need to be peeled. And their greens were in great shape, as well, which is something I almost never find at the grocery store. I think that turnips, thyme and sharp cheddar are a nearly perfect combination, and I decided to bake that combination into a pie. I like leeks with thyme and cheddar, too, so of course I added those. I wanted to cook the turnip greens into the pie, and I added a big helping of spinach, to soften their sharp flavor. I decided to make a buttermilk crust, just for a change, but you could easily use a regular pate brisée crust, if you wanted something flakier.
Here’s The Coup with Heven Tonite, because he says, “let’s give everybody homes and a garden plot.” I love this song – it’s the prettiest revolutionary rap song ever.
For the crust. This crust turns out crispy and a little chewy. It doesn’t get mushy at all. It has a tiny bit of sweetness to it, which I thought was nice with the turnips.
3 cups flour
1 t salt
1 t baking powder
2 t sugar
6 T soft butter
1 cup milk soured with lemon or buttermilk
Combine all of the dry ingredients in a big bowl. Make a well in the center and add all of the wet ingredients, stirring to mix well. Knead the dough for a minute or two, to make sure the egg and butter are evenly incorporated. Wrap in foil and chill till you’re ready to use it (at least half an hour).
1 1/2 cups baby turnips, washed, cut in half, and then into 1/4 inch slices (or larger turnips peeled and sliced)
2 cups turnip greens – washed
2 cups spinach – washed and roughly chopped
2 T olive oil
1 leek, white parts and soft green parts, soaked, rinsed, cut into quarters lengthwise, then 1/4 inch slices
1 clove garlic
1 t thyme
1/3 cup white wine
2 t tarragon
1 – 1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup sliced almonds, crushed
salt & plenty of pepper
If your turnips are little baby turnips, you can just wash them off. If they’re larger peel them. Boil a pot of salted water. Drop the turnip greens into the water, and put the turnips in a steamer on top. Steam the turnips till they’re just starting to turn translucent (about five minutes for baby turnips, a little longer for older ones). Take them off the heat set them aside. Boil the turnip greens for about 10 minutes, and then put them in a strainer. Run them under cool water. Drain and chop roughly.
In a large saucepan over medium heat warm the olive oil. Add the leeks, garlic and thyme. Cook till things just start to turn brown. Add the turnips and keep cooking. Then add the white wine. When it starts to turn thick and syrupy, add the turnip greens and spinach, with a few tablespoons of water. Mix everything together and cook till it’s warmed through, the turnips are just as soft as you want them, and the greens are just as wilted as you like them. Dump everything in a big bowl. Let it cool slightly, then add the cheddar, tarragon and almonds. Season with salt and plenty of pepper, then stir in all about about 1 T of the beaten egg.
Preheat the oven to 425
Roll out 3/4 of the dough to fit comfortably into a 9 inch springform pan that’s been buttered and floured. Press into the pan, letting it overhang the top a tiny bit all around. Spread the filling inside. Roll out the remaining 1/4 of dough to fit on top. Roll up the edges, and press them against the side of the pan with a fork. Poke the top in a few places with the fork to let the steam escape. Brush everything with beaten egg, and then cook for about half an hour, till the top is puffed and starting to brown. Let it cool for a few minutes before you try to cut into it.