Hello, beloved reader. Today, we’re having turnips au gratin for dinner – or breakfast if you happen to be reading this in the morning.
Would you believe me if I uttered those words about the gratin above? Does it actually look like it’s made of turnips? Let me guess. It does not. if you’re anything like me, you’re probably thinking these are potatoes. And, somewhere deep down, you’re mad at me for trying to fool you into thinking otherwise.
If that is your current thought process, don’t worry. I’m not mad at you. If anything, I understand, completely. I was in your very same incredulous shoes a few years ago. That day, my mom had served us cheesy turnips purée au gratin at Sunday dinner. Except she hadn’t told us we were having turnips. For all we knew, the creamy and cheesy mashed vegetables we were having were potatoes. And we ate them gluttonously.
I myself was far from imagining that she hadn’t just served us her regular potato au gratin. Yet, after a few bites, I was going to change my mind. Though I could not quite pinpoint what it was, something was different about her purée that day. It was not as unctuous as it usually was, and it showcased translucid bits and pieces of vegetables. Towards the end of the meal, I finally asked her the burning question I had kept to myself for fear of disappointing my taste buds:
“Was her potato purée truly potato based?”
With a smirk, she confessed that she had just deceived us all. She had fed us turnips au gratin. I was baffled.
My mother had managed to get me to eat a vegetable I had worked so hard to avoid in our soup joumou all those years. I didn’t like the grainy crunchy texture of turnips. They tended to cluster up and turn powdery as I chewed on them and I hated that feeling. Through the years, I had mastered the art of picking them out of my plate. If the potatoes in the soup were translucent with rings, I knew to avoid them. They were turnips.
Yet, that day, even with the translucent bits, I had not been able to tell the difference. My mother had managed to trick my palate into thinking it was having potatoes and not turnips. I was pleasantly surprised. Texture wise, her turnips had turned out just like potatoes. Their strong peppery flavor had also vanished. From then on, I resolved to let that vegetable finally conquer my palate
The gratin I am serving you today is not quite my mother’s recipe. I did not purée my turnips. But I promise it is worth trying. If like me, you’re not a fan of turnips, these turnips au gratin might actually change your perception.
Creamy and cheesy turnips au gratin
- 3 medium sized turnips
- 20 cl heavy cream
- ¾ cups grated Tête de Maure cheese or your favorite cheese
- ¼ tsp salt
- Pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp butter
- Wash and peel your turnips
- With a mandoline, thinly slice them
- Transfer to a pot of boiling salted water and cook until the turnips slices become translucent
- Discard the cooking liquid
- Butter your baking dish
- Layer the turnips making sure to cover each with some cream sprinkled with pepper and cheese
- Top generously with cheese and bake for about 30 to 45 minutes until golden
- Serve warm