In my book, the turnip is an underappreciated and underutilized vegetable. I’m always on the scout for tasty recipes that encourage folks to try the nutritious and delicious turnip. This hardy root grows in a wide range of soil types, and stores well in the root cellar way into spring.
During the summer season, we enjoy hakurei, a salad turnip. When eaten raw, their flavor is sweet and fruity, and the texture is crisp and tender. These days, we are enjoying purple top white globe, the traditional American turnip. I grate it for salads, soups and sandwiches, cut into sticks for snacking, and roast cubes in a hot oven for a simple supper side dish.
The inspiration for Turnip Gratin came from a recent dining experience at Arborvine in Blue Hill. Relishing someone else’s cuisine is a treat for me, and this was no exception. I ordered a wood-roasted, grass-fed sirloin steak that was absolutely delicious. But the vegetables, especially the gratin, were even better.
By definition, a gratin is any dish that is topped with cheese or breadcrumbs mixed with butter. In Turnip Gratin, the turnip slices are seasoned with thyme, cayenne pepper, and sea salt and poached in a mixture of chicken stock and heavy cream. When fork-tender, they are topped with Parmesan cheese and cooked until golden brown. This process creates delicate, thyme-perfumed morsels of melt-in-your-mouth turnip. Not a turn-up-your-nose type of dish, this recipe is a simple and tasty way to enjoy turnip.
- 2 medium turnips about 2 cups or 1 pound
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper less or more to taste
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup chicken or vegetable stock
- ½ cup Grated Parmesan cheese
- Butter a casserole or ovenproof baking dish.
- Wash the turnips (no need to peel unless the skins are tough), and cut them into ¼ inch slices.
- Layer the slices in the dish and sprinkle the slices with the herbs, spices and salt and pepper.
- Pour the stock and cream over the top.
- Cover the casserole and bake until the turnips are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Remove the cover.
- Sprinkle the top with cheese and cook until the cheese has melted and becomes a nice golden brown, about 20 more minutes.