Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Frugal Diva: Turnip Gratin Edition

Spring has sprung - only someone forgot to tell Mother Nature about it. The sun is shining, the skies are blue ... and last night it was about 20 degrees. The cold, hard reality is ... its still cold. Rather than continuing to whine about it, I've decided to embrace the vicissitudes of nature and turn on the oven. I admit defeat, I'm a broken woman. I am still cooking wintery foods ... turnips ... they're not just for Thanksgiving anymore!

After Sunday's soup adventure I found myself in possession of some extra turnip cubes and a bit of left-over Kerrygold Aged Cheddar. Frugal Diva that I am, I decided the best coarse of action was a gratin. We're mainly talking about a technique here, so I won't offer specific amounts. Well, that and the fact that I didn't measure anything may have something to do with it. You're smart, you'll figure it out.

Savory Turnip Gratin:
  • some peeled and cubed turnips
  • butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • one large slice of sugar-free whole wheat or whole grain bread, lightly toasted
  • some shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • the leaves from a sprig of fresh thyme
Place the turnips in a large pot of water to cover, add a generous pinch of salt to the water and bring the turnips to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and boil the turnips until they are fork tender, approximately 30 minutes give or take. Drain all of the water from the pan and to the turnips add as much butter as you are comfortable with ... I probably used about a tablespoon, but the choice is up to you. Using a potato masher, mash the turnips to desired consistency and add a bit of Kosher salt, some freshly ground black pepper and a dash of fresh nutmeg. Stir well and taste for seasoning.

Pre-heat your broiler and place the turnips into a gratin dish (as seen above) in an even layer. Reserve.

Using a food processor, or similar, grind the whole wheat toast into crumbs and transfer to a small bowl. Add some shredded cheddar cheese to the bread crumbs and the leaves from a sprig of thyme as well. Mix to incorporate, then sprinkle the cumb mixture over the turnips, adding a bit more cheese if you like. Place the dish under the broiler to brown. The gratin is ready when the cheese has melted and the crumbs have browned. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Come to think of it, I could certainly have used that lone, left-over leek in this gratin as well. If only I'd read Pixelgal's question before I got to work. If you're in possession of a solitary leek, why not chop it, saute it in a bit of butter a/o olive oil until mellow, then add it to the turnips just after mashing. Proceed accordingly with the rest of the recipe and I assure you it will be delicious.

I love turnips so much I often wonder why I only have them once a year ... then I remember its because the husband can't abide them. Last night's soup being a notable exception, he wouldn't touch this dish with a ten foot pole no matter how much cheese is involved. And really, there wasn't much cheese involved. I have to admit I was rather parsimonious with it ... you know, that old diet thing and all. But, hey, its your gratin - add as much cheese as you like!

You can't go wrong either way. It was a magnificent dish and perfect for a chilly night. I served it with a succulent roast pork and some haricot verts. Sort of a Sunday dinner on Monday night if you will ... and I'm glad I did.

Bon appetit!


Anonymous said...

Must be admitted that nary a turnip has appeared in our respective kitchens. We need to get on the turnip caboose because this sounds like a good wintery spring dish to try.

pixelgal said...

Nice word, vicissitudes! And a good use for the turnips. I love 'em but never buy them either. This week I may do that and try a leek as well.

Love you, Diva!

Debbie said...

Good Lord, that looks good.

The Diva on a Diet said...

Duo - really? I'm surprised. I think you guys would really like them ... let me know what you think if you take the plunge!

Pixelgal - Love you back! Do try it with the leeks and report back. I think it will be a great combination. :)

Debbie - it was! LOL :)

Melissa Good Taste said...

Turnip Gratin sounds great!

doggybloggy said...

how'd you do it? you mad the turnip attractive...?

Jeanie said...

I was thinking the same thing as doggybloggy. You made it look so good!

The Diva on a Diet said...

That, my dears, is the magic of cheese ... and bread crumbs too, I suppose. Cheese makes everything more attractive ... except maybe my hips!


Tangled Noodle said...

Oh, such a funny coincidence! I just wrote a meme and one of my food secrets was an aversion to turnips (actually, mashed turnips). Well, there's always hope that I could change my mind and as you say, cheese makes everything more attractive.

I also wanted to let you know that I finally posted a proper 'thank you' for sharing your 'Sisterhood' award with me!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Tangled Noodle - if you lived near by I'd rush some over in hopes of converting you. Fear not ... no turnips on the menu tomorrow. I promise! ;)

C.G. the Foodie said...

That looks delicious! I love turnips and am always looking for new ideas on how to use them.

The Diva on a Diet said...

C.G. the Foodie - welcome fellow turnip fan! And thanks for the lovely comment! Off to check out your blog ... :)

Daily Spud said...

Turnips are such a seriously underrated vegetable. This is a fine example of why that should not be so!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Daily Spud - I could not agree more. Welcome, fellow turnip lover! And thanks for the kind words. :)

Joanne said...

Oh I love this idea. I'm always eye-balling turnips in the store but never going through with a purchase. The gratin dish sounds great. I can taste it now.

The Diva on a Diet said...

Welcome, Joanne, and thanks for the lovely comment! Do give the turnips a try ... while they're kind of a pain to peel and chop, the flavor is well worth it. And, they reheat just beautifully in the microwave too. :)