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A&E >  Food

Just Picked: Sweet harukei turnips dazzle on baguettes

Mild and sweet, Japanese turnips are great raw. An easy way to enjoy them is thinly sliced atop open-faced baguette-and-butter sandwiches. (Adriana Janovich / The Spokesman-Review)
Mild and sweet, Japanese turnips are great raw. An easy way to enjoy them is thinly sliced atop open-faced baguette-and-butter sandwiches. (Adriana Janovich / The Spokesman-Review) Buy this photo

Radishes have long been paired with bread, butter and sea salt for a simple, palate-pleasing snack.

The classic French combination works because of its uncomplicated but varied textures – the crustiness of the baguette, bite and crispness of the radish, creaminess of the butter and minerally sharpness of the salt. The result is unpretentious yet elegant, perfect in its plainness.

For a different twist, try harukei in place of radishes. Raw white Japanese turnips don’t pack as much punch. They’re sweeter and much more mild. But they still lend a crunch to these time-honored hors d’oeuvres.

No actual cooking is required – just some slicing and, if you opt for herbed butter, a bit of mixing. Use a mandoline or sharp knife to sliver the turnips as thinly as you can. Opt for a flaky sea salt or a sprinkling of fleur de sel.

A little freshly cracked black pepper adds to these buttery bites, too. It’s a particularly nice pairing with the mildness of the sweet Japanese turnips.

These easy-to-make, open-faced sandwiches come together quickly. Dress them up with a topping of baby arugula, mizuna or microgreens and your favorite fresh herbs. Feel free to experiment, swapping out the scallion, dill and parsley in the herbed butter below for oregano, thyme, chives or tarragon – whatever you prefer.

Whatever you do, be generous with the butter, salt and turnip slices. This is no time to be stingy. More butter is better.

Turnip Sandwiches with Butter and Salt

1 baguette

1 to 1 1/2 sticks of good-quality, unsalted butter, room temperature

2 teaspoons flaky sea salt or fleur de sel

2 bunches sweet white Japanese turnips, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 small handful arugula, mizuna or microgreens (optional)

1 to 2 teaspoons minced fresh herbs, such as oregano, thyme, chives or tarragon (optional)

Freshly cracked pepper, to taste (optional)

Slice the baguette lengthwise, then crosswise to make 4 quarters. Spread butter on each quarter and sprinkle with salt. Lay sliced turnips atop the butter and salt, then place arugula or other greens, if using, on top. Sprinkle with herbs and freshly cracked black pepper, if using.

Yield: 4 servings

Note: To create closed-top sandwiches, use 2 baguettes, slicing both lengthwise, then crosswise to make 8 quarters. Use 4 of the quarters to top the sandwiches. For more and smaller servings, cut the baguette crosswise to create small rounds, then spread them with butter and top them with turnip slices and a sprinkling of salt, herbs, greens and pepper.

Herbed Butter

From “Barefoot in Paris” by Ina Garden

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons minced scallions

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh dill

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley leaves

1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed until combined. Do not whip.

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