Oh Gratin!

Perhaps I should be a mediator. The world needs more mediators or at least more people capable of walking the middle ground.

Turnip Au Gratin

Turnip Au Gratin

Sometimes walking the middle can produce an optimal solution for all. At least that was the case yesterday when we had a reunion of my youngest son’s lower school class and I was charged with bringing a potluck dish. My husband had also charged me with getting rid of all the “bloody turnips”. Yes, we have many. They waft in the fridge. No one rallies around them as a favorite vegetable. They are humble roots lacking praise. I teeter on the balance beam between making something delicious and cooking with turnips.

As I rummage through the recipe universe, I find deeply rich cream laden casseroles. There are dishes designed to disguise with chicken broth and bacon and others with such bare ingredients that I’m certain that the flavor and scent of the purplish gems would show through too starkly. With multiple windows open I begin to negotiate my path taking what I believe is good and necessary from each. Yes, I am walking the middle of recipe mediation.

Eliminate the chicken broth and bacon suggestions for the non-meat eaters. Lighten up the cream to 1% milk and spice it up with a mixture of peppers and herbs. Add some extra garlic and get rid of the last shallot in the root bin. The result?

Gone. Instantly. AND, it will work well with a variety of other vegetables just in time for Thanksgiving.

Oh Gratin!
Walking the middle of Locavore in the City, Pioneer Woman and Cooking Light
Serves 6


  • 8 whole turnips, peeled
  • 2 red potatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • generous grind of black pepper (24 turns)
  • several sprigs thyme, leaves stripped from stems
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups 1% milk
  • 1.5 cups white cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup parmesan, grated
  • 4 Tbs butter


IMG_1882Preheat the oven to 375º. Slice peeled turnips and potatoes thin using a mandolin, if available. Pour milk into a sauce pan with the minced garlic, shallot, black pepper, thyme and cayenne. Heat over medium heat for several minutes stirring occasionally.

In a large cast-iron skillet, melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Place a single layer of turnips on top of the butter overlapping the edges slightly. Next, ladle some of the hot milk mixture over the top of the turnips. Sprinkle some cheese over the top and repeat. IMG_1883It is also taste worth to add additional butter during this process. Continue building the layers until all of the turnip and potato slices have been used. IMG_1885Pour the remainder of the milk mixture over the top and then top with the grated cheese.

IMG_1886Now pop the whole thing into the over and bake for about 30 minutes until the top is brown and bubbly.

IMG_1891Do you enjoy finding solutions that take care of more than one issue? Ever done a recipe compromise?

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  1. Sort of like scalloped turnips, yes? It looks good to me. I’d guess that the presence of the potatoes makes the turnips seem more like potatoes as they cook.

  2. I would LOVE that! I’ve also cooked turnips and potatoes and mashed them together with a bit of salt, pepper, and butter with good results.

  3. that looks heavenly

  4. My mother was forced to grow up on turnips. I think they were cheap and readily available during the war years. As a result, she hates turnips and so I grew up having never eaten one and thinking they must be most foul. It was Jamie Oliver who got me eating turnips as they pop up in his cookbooks. I found I don’t actually mind them so I would love your gratin xx

  5. Tammy – I am overflowing in yellow squash right now. I often put in the words of foods in my pantry into an internet search with the word ‘recipe’ after it and find all kinds of delectable recipes. In fact, tonight I ran out at dusk to grill squash for a salad tomorrow. And I often improvise as I an Lacto challenged, so while my mouth salivates for a gratin, I dare not take the chance! Thanks for having us all think out side of the box !

  6. That looks so sinfully good! YuM

  7. Lisa H

     /  November 17, 2013

    Oooh. Sounds yummy! Yes, root season is here, and with it comes cooler weather and warmer dishes. Thanks for a great recipe!

  8. I frequently take a little of this and a little of that to find what I hope is a happy medium in recipes.
    I received a 38 ounce (without greens) turnip in my farm share box and proceeded to play with it recently. I did a scalloped turnip casserole (similar, but including capacollo and a cream sauce) and it was not well received. The baked turnip chips I thought were fabulous, but also all mine to eat. Turnip soup though? That works for my family. I’m sticking to it.

  9. This sounds lovely, and a wonderful way to “glorify” the humble turnip! Thanks!

  10. Scrambled Megs

     /  November 17, 2013

    this sounds lovely indeed. i don’t each much turnip – perhaps it deserves more attention!

  11. This is a fantastic recipe compromise. Anything with cheese has to be tasty 🙂

  12. Yum Yum Yum. I have never had a gratin before and I wish I was your neighbor. This looks insane.

  13. What a great solution–I can completely believe that was eaten right up! I use turnips in a beef stew recipe but I have a lot of parsnips left that are getting about as much love in our house as your turnips.

  14. boxeats

     /  November 18, 2013

    I’ll be trying this one soon. Maybe tonight!

  15. Yeah, our Thanksgiving mashed potatoes must also have a turnip (or two) in them. Personally, I’m a fan. How about grated raw ones mixed with grated carrot and a seriously strong citrus dressing inside spring roll wrappers? I do like raw turnips, but perhaps that’s unusual. (On the other hand, I’ve also slipped some into diced veg in stuffed peppers when the last one was looking rather sad.)

    The splendid table used to also have a recipe for braised/glazed root veg that was very nice…

    • I think grated with a strong dressing would work for me – especially if it is the mild harukei. These purplish ones are a bit more difficult for me.

  16. That’s a nice, healthy adaptation of gratin, and I imagine a wonderful use for turnips! I like turnips, particularly rutabagas (?), and I’m looking forward to them being in season again and sold at the local veg stores. This is something I love about the quarter where I live – it’s very multicultural and has lots of citizens from the Middle East, which is reflected in the abundance of Middle Eastern food stores selling a variety of seasonal fruits and veggies. They sell things I’ve never seen at a supermarket before.

  17. Looks like a delicious way to get rid of those “bloody turnips” lol Sounds likes something my husband would say. Maybe it’s more like please feed them to anyone else but me. Ha. Either way, your gratin looks beautiful 😀

  18. Looks cheesey and delicious!

  19. Smart. Gratin gives the turnip a bit of creamy oomph. This looks delicious.

  20. Hi Tammy, I have also made a gratin of turnips with parsnips that helps to mediate as well!

    • Yes, I imagine parsnips would be terrific. I love them so much that there is never any issue using them.

  21. This is a top side dish that I am making this evening, it looks very tasty, very appetizing too! Yummmmmm. 😀

  22. Must be delicious.


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