What’s Old is New Again: Turnip Tots

The old adage “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” is nudging me.

This week I stopped by a neighborhood gem, Quince Fine Foods, located just two blocks north of my beloved Piazza Farmers Market.  I spoke with the friendly co-owner, Nicole, about her 3-year-old store, farm-fresh strawberries, trading city life for land and space, and selling our beloved homes to people who channel good karma.  Quince is quaint and organized with a mix of local, domestic and imported foods.  Jams, cheeses, spreads, meats, breads and sweets dot the shelves, and a menu features made-to-order sandwiches and fresh soups.  I opted for an iced coffee and a bag of dried papaya to snack on, plus a bag of wasabi peas for J.   Before I left, Nicole informed me that Quince hosts a monthly beer and cheese tasting led by local food writer, Tenaya Darlington, who blogs at Madame Fromage.  I knew I’d be back.

Picture courtesy of accessphilly.com

Admittedly, it was my first visit to Quince.  A store less than a half a mile from my front condo step just hit my radar.  I’m suddenly anxious as my days as a city dweller are numbered.  While I’m certain I know the city well, with less than one month until the big move, I’m eager to get reacquainted.  I’ve already made a handful of restaurant reservations and mentally committed J and I to Ride the Ducks, squeeze in at least two more Phillies games, and navigate the Reading Terminal Market on a weekend.

In the spirit of what’s old is new again, I reclaim tater tots thanks to this recipe from Epicurious.  I used some adorable organic baby turnips from Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op, an early summer vegetable that is sweeter and more tender than its adult counterpart.  As I prepared this recipe, I couldn’t help but think of the good ol’ deep-fried, school-lunch stand-by, the tater totJamie Oliver and Michelle Obama would be proud, I thought — I had reconstructed the greasy school lunch “vegetable” into a healthier, tasty version with a golden-crust crunch and fun shape that kids would enjoy.

With a renewed sense of adventurism, I set out to (re)discover the city much like I’ve discovered  local and seasonal foods over the past several months.  While I’ll be a mere 30 miles from the City of Brotherly Love, a trip I’ll actually be making Monday through Friday, I love a good excuse to shine a fresh light on the city and hopefully take advantage of a few cheese and beer pairings while I have an easy walk home.

Turnip Tots

Adapted from “Turnips with Bread Crumbs and Parsley” recipe


  • 4 small baby turnips (about 3/4 pound), peeled
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons minced mint leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large saucepan of boiling water cook turnips 10 minutes and drain. When turnips are cool enough to handle, cut each into wedges.
  2. In a large skillet cook turnips in butter over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until almost tender and golden on the edges, about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in Panko bread crumbs, mint, zest, salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until turnips are tender, about 5 minutes.  Plate and enjoy!

Recipe Notes: The original recipe calls for parsley.  I only had fresh mint on hand so I improvised.  The combination was refreshing! Experiment with your favorite fresh herbs — for an educational pictorial on herbs, check out this link from The Huffington Post.


6 responses to “What’s Old is New Again: Turnip Tots

  1. Hi! Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your kind words. Your blog is great, too! I love your previous post on local foods and I’m going through many of the other posts now. I’d love to hear about your experiences as an R.D. and what you’re doing now with your masters in public health. I feel like I’m just beginning!

    • Hey Melissa, thanks for stopping by – you are definitely entering the field at an exciting time, particularly as it relates to the local food movement. I’ll have to drop you an email to fill you in on my RD/MPH ventures 🙂

  2. This looks good and easy. I note you’re making it with the harukei turnip and I’m wondering if I can do it with the regular old purplish variety? The ones you’ve chosen are so much more mil. (and I like them better).

    • Hi Tammy, the harukei turnip (I did not know the proper name, so thanks!) is definitely milder and sweeter than the old purplish variety which I think helps make this recipe more acceptable to the masses. But if you’re a turnip lover, give it a try!

  3. Interesting take on turnips. This sounds good, although I’m wondering whether I would skip or keep the ketchup for this one. I’ve never been to quince myself. Worth checking out?

    • Yeah, I don’t think ketchup would be the best accompaniment 🙂 Quince is definitely a cool little artisan shop – they actually have baskets that you can ‘rent’ for picnics. If you’re in the area, definitely worth stopping in for at least an iced coffee! I’m interested in trying something off the menu next.

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