Turnips Au Gratin

On a low-carb diet, even with the vast number of delicious "legal" dishes one can create, there are certainly things one misses, with only the memory of purposely-removed comfort foods remaining. For me, those often-craved bites include cheeseburgers with a bun (preferably a buttery brioche bun), chicken fried steak with cream gravy, Wavy Lay's with onion dip, and French Toast.

The fact that not one of those foods would be welcome on any realistic diet notwithstanding, with a little creativity, the low-carb foodie can find suitable replacements for some of the dearly departed foods. For example: boiled and pureed cauliflower to replace mashed potatoes, Splenda to replace sugar, baked parmesan chips (more on that another time) to replace crackers...but sliced turnips in place of sliced potatoes remains my favorite.

This is a variation of a Pioneer Woman recipe I stumbled upon when I first started reading her site. I never would have come up with it myself, nor would I have considered turnips in any way, shape, or form - simply because I had never tried one (even though they are a bit purple, and in my opinion, adorable).

After a few attempts at this dish, my biggest tip to a turnip first-timer would be to find the smallest turnips possible when selecting. I was all set to turn my family's notions on turnips upside down with this dish during a recent trip to New York, so I ventured across town to the one place I knew I'd find them: the giant Union Square Whole Foods, where I picked up 3 softball-size turnips and didn't give them a second thought as I hauled them back on the 7 train. When all was said and done and covered in thank-you-very-much-New-York-City-$17 Gruyere cheese, they tasted sharp and bit back like a raw radish would. The smaller ones here in Tennessee have proven to be much more tender and sweet, and much closer in taste to a potato. Plus, one cup of cooked turnips has 4.77 net carbs, while one cup of cooked potatoes has 15.7 carbs!

You will need:

5-6 small turnips, rinsed
2 cups Gruyere cheese (or whatever you want - Gruyere is just fantastic)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream or half and half
2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter (optional)
Salt and pepper

Start by bringing a pot of salted water to a boil. I will also add sugar or simple syrup to the water - I'm not really sure if it does anything, but I like to think that it sweetens the turnips just a tad to take the edge off.

Thinly slice the turnips. I leave the skins on, but you can take them off.

Add turnips to the boiling water and cook while you obsess over getting the perfect photo of yourself chopping scallions, which you won't even wind up including in your silly blog. By that point, the water will be boiling over and the turnips should be fork-tender. Drain immediately but do not rinse.

Allow the turnips to cool for easy handling, then remove one by one to a glass baking dish. Layer the turnip slices, slightly overlapping each other across the bottom of the baking dish.

Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper, a little garlic, a little scallion, and a few blobs of butter. Then...go for the cream.

Just do it.

Then, layer on some cheese.

Repeat until you've run out of turnips and/or room in your baking dish. Cook the turnips at 250 degrees for at least an hour - sometimes I go for two hours. Remove when the cream and cheese have reduced and the top is brown and bubbly.

Find yourself so transfixed by the gooey, cheesy plate that Dr. Atkins would bless as diet food in front of you that you forget to take a picture of the final product.


  1. This is actually something I'd like to make. I'll bet Bella would love it. Actually, I intend to do this on the sneak and give it to Ken. I wonder if he'll pinpoint what's been changed immediately.


  2. Let me know how that goes. ;)