Botanical name: Brassica rapa rapa
Turnip's origins and history
Turnip has been cultivated since the dawn of human civilization, but unlike other vegetables, its origins are very uncertain. However, most scholars believe that the variety, in its original form, first appeared in Northern Europe, and then spread to the rest of Europe, Asia and even America. Much appreciated by the ancient Romans, to the point that, as narrated by Pliny, it was the third most cultivated food product after the vine and wheat, this root was very present on the tables of the poorest.
To see it on the tables of the wealthiest people, however, we must wait until the fifteenth century, when, following the numerous rumors that it was endowed with aphrodisiac powers, it made its appearance on the tables of the wealthiest. Subsequently, man created different varieties, selecting and crossing various types of turnips, above all to soften their flavor, so much so that today it is almost impossible to say exactly how many types of turnips exist, given their diffusion and the numerous breeds cultivated throughout. the world.
Nutritional and beneficial properties
Until recently, turnips have solved the nutritional problems of the poorest and, even though they are no longer used as they once were, they are still the most popular vegetables among Latin peoples. Besides being very nutritious, the turnip contains many properties and nutritional characteristics: being rich in vitamins and mineral salts, for example, it is very useful to combat tiredness and to prevent fatigue.
It is also excellent for fighting cystitis, kidney stones, constipation, bronchitis, colds, coughs and pharyngitis, due to the diuretic, anti-inflammatory and purifying properties that are contained in its root, as well as the sulfur substances that are contained in it. found in large quantities and which help to thin the bronchial secretions and favor their elimination.
Warning: due to the presence of these sulfur substances, this vegetable is not recommended for people with thyroid problems, as it can compromise the proper functioning of thyroid hormones). Due to its purifying action it can be used to fight acne and eczema, and it is also an excellent anticancer.
Use of turnip in the kitchen
The turnip can be eaten raw, cooked, grated in salads, or reduced to a puree or seasoned with a little butter or extra virgin olive oil. Among the most popular recipes in which we can find this vegetable, there is bisna, a polenta originally from Friuli and easy to make, but which requires long cooking times.
Less expensive and faster is the vegetable broth, which can be used in various ways in the kitchen, such as for preparing soups or risottos, or for flavoring meat or vegetables. The broth is obtained by boiling 2 potatoes, 2 onions, 2 turnips, 2 leeks, 2 carrots, 1 celery stick and 3 tomatoes for 20 minutes in 150 centiliters of water. The vegetables must first be washed, then peeled and cut into pieces, then put them in a pot and add cold water and salt. Once the cooking time has elapsed, they must then be removed with a colander and mashed to flavor the broth more.
Given its close link with popular tradition, it is not surprising that the turnip is the protagonist of many fairy tales and legends. One of the best known and most appreciated by children is the "Story of the giant turnip", written by Alexei Tolstoy, which tells the adventures of a grandfather who, after planting a seed, finds himself in the his garden is a giant specimen that he is unable to collect. He then calls the grandmother, who in turn calls the grandson, who in turn will call the family dog and cat, but only when a small mouse is added, the group manages to pull the vegetable out of the ground and prepare a turnip soup.
Even in the tales of the Grimm Brothers there is a fairy tale dedicated to turnips, where thanks to these vegetables, a poor farmer becomes rich, unleashing his brother's envy.
As for curiosities, also in this case the popular tradition comes to our aid: according to a widespread belief, turnips had no flavor, so they entered many sayings to indicate stupidity (example: turnip-head).