Sunday, June 2, 2013

Three Greek ways to cook a turnip:
Turnip Skorthalia, Turnip Chips, Turnip and Feta Fritters

Ever since discovering the brilliant recipe for low-carb moussaka, Tony and I have been wanting to experiment with one of the dish's key ingredients, the humble turnip.

Having never eaten a turnip before, we were pleasantly surprised by both the flavour and texture of this amazing vegetable and its incredible likeness to potato.

The turnip worked brilliantly as a potato replacement for the moussaka so I was keen to see how it would perform in other potato-based goodies like rosti, cheesy mash and, of course, traditional Greek mezes (appetisers) such as skorthalia (garlic dip), tiganita lahanika (fried vegetables) and keftethes (fritters or croquettes).

Skorthalia is a strong, garlic-flavoured dip that traditionally uses a soaked bread or mashed potato base. If you love a good hard garlic bang in the face, you'll love skorthalia. Of course you can regulate the amount of garlic that goes in but you ought to know, a big garlic hit is the big Greek way.

More importantly though is the fact that turnip works beautifully with this dip and produces exactly the same visual and textural result as skorthalia that is made with bread or potato. Flavour wise, I think turnip skorthalia is even better than the potato or bread versions as the sweetness of the turnip helps to balance the sharpness of the raw garlic.

I love a good plate of fried zucchini chips but have never been able to master the thin and crispy batter used for this classic Greek taverna meze. The batter should be similar to tempura batter but mine invariably turns out more like pancake batter. I know the recipe is simple but somehow I always manage to revert to some crazy notion in my head that batter needs to be pancake-thick. No matter what the recipe says. Crazy, I know.

So needless to say, my turnip chips didn't come out that great. Thickly battered and sloppy. Surprisingly, they still tasted ok, and to my own defence, they were actually crispy for the first five minutes.

The turnip needs to be sliced super thin for these chips so that it cooks quickly enough to keep up with the lightning fast cooking speed of the batter, especially if your batter is gorgeously thin and light. Go on, make your perfect tempura batter and whip up a batch of these wicked turnip chips – I'm sure they'll turn out way better than mine :)

Yes, that's right, the turnip chips are the ones on the far left of these photos. Stop laughing.

Vegetable fritters are one of my favourite Greek mezes. Usually made with grated zucchini, pumpkin, potato or eggplant, it wasn't hard to imagine how yum these would be with turnips. I used a standard Greek recipe for vegetable fritters mixing together a bit of flour, egg, onion, feta, herbs and spices with the turnip, then shallow frying.

These turnip fritters were the biggest success of the three experiments – my thick batter routine really shined with this one. Golden and crunchy on the outside and melt-in-the-mouth soft on the inside. I was also very impressed with how well my choice of spice (cumin) went with the turnip. Best of all, these are absolutely delicious dipped in tzatziki, or turnip skorthalia!

So without further ado, here are the recipes!

Turnip Skorthalia

Makes around half a cup


  • 1 turnip, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Salt to taste


  1. Boil the turnip for 15–20 minutes until tender.
  2. Blend turnip with a stick blender, then add garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and salt to taste. Blend until smooth.

Turnip Chips

Makes a big bowl full


  • 2 turnips, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 100g plain flour
  • 1/2–1 cup water
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Oil for frying


  1. In a large bowl, mix enough water (between 1/2 and 1 cup) with the flour to create a thin batter.
  2. Add the egg and salt and mix well.
  3. Dip the turnip slices into the batter and shallow fry in hot oil for a minute or so each side, until golden.
  4. Drain on paper towels and season well with salt.

Turnip and Feta Fritters

Makes around 20–30


  • 2 turnips, peeled and cubed
  • 1 brown onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 200–250g flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 100g feta cheese, crumbled
  • Oil for frying


  1. Boil the turnip for 15–20 minutes, until tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, fry the onion over medium heat until transparent and lightly golden.
  3. Put cooked turnip, onion, flour, egg, cumin and mint in a food processor and blend until a thick batter is formed. Add more flour if necessary.
  4. Transfer mixture to a bowl and add feta, stirring until just combined.
  5. Heat about 1cm of oil in a pan and gently spoon blobs of batter into the oil. Allow to fry for a couple of minutes before turning.
  6. Once fritters are golden brown, remove from pan, drain on paper towels and season well with salt.
Today's post is linked up with Veggie Mama's Meatless Mondays. Go take a look for some lovely vegetarian recipes and ideas.


  1. I never thought I would get excited about a turnip recipe.. but I have to say you and the photos convinced me. Can't wait to try the fritters and dip!! I love finding ways to lower the calories.. Pinning it right now!

    1. Thanks Judee! The fritters were real troopers even the next day. I took them out of the fridge and onto a baking tray, straight into the oven preheated to 180 degrees celsius, and 10 minutes later they were crisp all over again!

  2. I love fritters and the combination of the feta and turnips sounds great!

    1. Salty and sweet always works for me! :)

  3. These sound (and look!) delicious! And that dip - yes please to lots of garlic! I can't say I have ever done much with turnip either, but by the looks of things I should give it a try!

    1. Well if you love your garlic, I think you'll love skorthalia Liz. Raw garlic is a bit strong for me but I reckon the dip would also work really well with roasted garlic.

  4. Turnip is such an underrated veggie, I'm so glad you have discovered it! I love it boiled and mashed with butter, salt and nutmeg - you should try it :)

    I'm with you on batter too, my tempura is never light enough.

    1. Thanks Christie, I will definitely have to try mashed turnip with butter and nutmeg! Sounds divine :)

  5. Oh Lisa!....These are making me salivate. l have never used turnips but l sure will now.
    l cannot wait to make these for lunch.

    Nancy :-)

    1. Thank you Nancy! I hope turnips impress you as much as they impressed me!

  6. These look so delicious! I've pinned the recipe- definitely making these later!

    xx Kait


  7. after your turnip moussaka i started buying turnips to have in place of sweet potato fries. i love them! i love the versatility of them, too, which you outline beautifully in this post!

    1. Welcome to the turnip fan club Caitlin! I'm still experimenting with them. My next turnip project will be rosti I think :)

  8. Hi Lisa, I've never tried turnip with the ways you suggest, but I must say that you make them sound very tasty. And in your photos look soooo delicious. Lisa stunning photos make me want to eat them all.

    I have not forgotten, thanks for your patience

    1. Thank you Mina! I would love to see the turnip chips done properly with a nice thin batter. Perhaps I could talk to my local Greek restaurant and see if they might introduce them to the menu! They make perfect fried zucchinis..

      And please, no rush with the filo recipe :)

  9. Okay, you have persuaded me to give turnips another try. Because all of these recipes look absolutely delicious!

    1. I'm actually cooking a veggie stew for some friends this weekend and will be serving it up with mashed turnip. Will be interesting to see what they think!

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