Farmers and gardeners know that rows of direct-seeded vegetables have to be thinned so that the remaining plants can grow to a decent size. Often those culls are tossed, but a savvy farmer decided to bundle up some tokyo turnips and bring them to San Francisco's Inner Sunset Farmers' Market. The minute I saw them I snatched them up.
First I set my oven at 400 degrees. After rinsing the turnip in cool water, I dried them on a tea towel and then arranged them on a baking tray. I drizzled on some olive oil and rolled the turnips around in it so they were evenly coated and then sprinkled them with course sea salt. I popped them in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the greens started crisping up and the little white turnips began to turn golden. I removed them from the oven and served them on a platter with some balsamic vinegar as a dipping sauce.
I wonder if I'll ever see the teeny-tiny tokyo turnips again, though. They seem like a little treasure that appeared out of nowhere. If I do, next time I will a) taste one raw--why didn't I remember to do that the first time? and b) maybe try to pickle them, again with their leaves attached.
If you're a gardener, I highly recommend saving your root vegetable culls and experimenting with them on your own. I imagine carrots and beets would be very interesting. And very beautiful.
(Images: Dana Velden)