Sales of root vegetables, particularly turnips have risen dramatically recently as cash-strapped Britons look for cheap and nutritious ways to feed their families. Turnips, swedes and parsnips have all become increasingly popular with British shoppers. Turnips were first grown in Europe over 2,000 years ago and were a prized vegetable to the Romans. They were particularly popular in wartime when food was rationed and they were seen as a cheap and cheerful vegetable, which was filling and readily available. However after the war, they had a certain amount of stigma attached to them with many Brits regarding them as peasant food. Their close relatives swedes and parsnips were seen as being much more sophisticated vegetables and became much more popular with shoppers. However all that looks set to change as some of Britain’s most famous chefs including Jamie Oliver and Delia Smith, use turnips, together with other root vegetables in their recipes. I enjoyed the BBC series Blackadder starring Rowan Atkinson in the title role. His trusty servant Baldrick loved turnips and gave them his seal of approval! Other popular root vegetables include carrots, potatoes, beetroots and sweet potatoes.
Root vegetables are also very easy to grow, even in the smallest garden and can be grown in large pots or containers. Getting children involved in helping to grow their own vegetables is always a good idea too. Most parents have an uphill struggle trying to persuade their children to eat vegetables. However many children are quite keen to eat vegetables they have grown themselves! Growing your own vegetables is a healthy and rewarding pastime for children and adults alike.
It’s funny how times and trends change. I always remember my grandparents cooking meals with root vegetables. As a child, I enjoyed swede and carrot mash, turnip mash and stews and soups containing a variety of root vegetables. Root vegetables taste as good today as they have always done. Packed with lots of vitamins and minerals, they are great winter warmers and particularly good for bulking out stews and casseroles. More importantly they also count towards your five fruit and vegetable a day target. I love honey glazed parsnips, a great accompaniment to so many dishes. Parsnip crisps are a great and healthy alternative to normal potato crisps sold in supermarkets for both children and adults alike. This recipe by Sophie Grigson is one of my favourites:-