Turnip puff with buttered breadcrumb topping

Wondering what to do with turnips? Boil a batch with a potato to remove any bitterness, then mash, and bake them with brown sugar and nutmeg to bring out a sweet flavor. Top the whole thing with buttered breadcrumbs.

By , Garden of Eating

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    This hearty mashed turnip dish is mildly sweet and spicy. Topped with breadcrumbs, it's an easy and tempting fall side dish.
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Two weeks ago, the very last farmers market of the year happened to fall on the same day as our final CSA (community support agriculture) veggie pick-up. I was thinking of this double whammy as rather tragic until superstorm Sandy descended.

But the losses and devastation Sandy left in her wake gave me an injection of fresh perspective – while sigh-worthy, the lack of fresh veggies pales in comparison to losing a home, a car, or even just electricity for more than a couple of days. We were extremely fortunate here in upstate New York – barely even lost power and all the trees that might have fallen at our house had been taken down already. I am hoping for a speedy recovery for the millions who got walloped. 

Meanwhile, that final CSA box left us with five pounds of truly gorgeous scarlet turnips that I was not sure what to do with. Scarlets are a mildly sweet variety of turnip that I'd never encountered before. So I turned to my favorite recipe resource, Food Blog Search and turned up this whimsically named recipe for a turnip "puff."

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The ingredients looked appealing to me – I like the idea of adding brown sugar and nutmeg to play up the turnips' natural sweetness. And I certainly won't say no to anything that is topped with buttered breadcrumbs. It also looked pretty easy so I gave it a whirl.

I made a few small changes to Kitchen Parade's recipe, namely that I boiled the turnips with a potato since I'd read that this can help to remove any bitterness – then I mashed the potato along with the turnips (why not, right?) I also added a pinch of cinnamon and cloves to go along with the nutmeg. And after roughly mashing the turnips and potato, I added the rest of the ingredients and just used my immersion blender to blend it all together. The end result was nice: a hearty baked turnip mash that is mildly sweet and mildly spiced. 

Turnip puff 
Recipe via Kitchen Parade
Serves 4

3 pounds purple-topped turnips (about 6 large) or rutabagas (about 1 large)

2 eggs

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Pinch nutmeg

1/2 cup panko or dry bread crumbs

2 tablespoons melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and bring a medium sized pot of salted water to a boil. Peel the turnips or rutabagas and cut into roughly equal-size quarters and cook at a gentle boil until soft. 

2. Mash the turnips or rutabagas in a large bowl – you can do this by hand, with an immersion blender, or in a food processor. Add the eggs, butter, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, pepper and nutmeg and combine well. Transfer to a buttered casserole dish.

3. Combine the crumbs and butter and sprinkle evenly on top and bake until lightly browned on top, about 35-40 minutes.

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