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.

Garden of Eating
This hearty mashed turnip dish is mildly sweet and spicy. Topped with breadcrumbs, it's an easy and tempting fall side dish.

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."

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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