With the change in the season, you are seeing more crisp apples, spicy greens, hearty squashes and vibrant root vegetables at the markets. Luckily, these foods are naturally rich in calcium, vitamin K and C and other antioxidants to keep your body healthy throughout the winter. With all the viruses going around, it is more important than ever to eat foods in season. Mother Nature knows best.
One of the most overlooked root vegetable is the turnip, especially the green tops. The greens contain most of the vitamins and should be eaten soon after they are picked for the most nutrients. Toss them in a salad or add them in your warm soup.
Little Hakureis are one of the most flavorful turnips. If you are just starting to add turnips into your diet, look for the smaller ones which are sweeter. The larger ones tend to be a little bitter but you can balance the bitterness with something sweet and salty to create a fabulous fall dish.
Chef Hilary White of The Hil at Serenbe loves working with turnips. She has trained her chefs to taste them and season accordingly. For the large turnips, she cooks them to just tender, in boiling salted water, and finishes with a good butter and a crunchy salt. She also uses the larger ones in a classic potato gratin to hold it together. For the market demo, she created this Turnip and Jasmine rice gratin to include the greens and take advantage of the crunch in the turnip root.
Photo by TC Brodnax
For those of you wondering what a gratin is exactly, a Gratin is a comforting, classic French dish with thinly sliced vegetables, cream and a topping of cheese or breadcrumbs coated in olive oil or butter. They are the perfect side and can be whipped together ahead of time and heated when needed. Gratins are excellent for family gatherings or larger parties. You can serve this creamy gratin at Thanksgiving or another special occasion. It can easily be adjusted to meet any dietary restrictions. With many people trying gluten free, or developing reactions to dairy, eggs and nuts, it is hard to cook for a crowd.
If you need a dairy free version, use coconut cream instead of the milk and sour cream/creme fraiche. Instead of using parmesan or gruyere cheese, toss some breadcrumbs and nutritional yeast in olive oil and coat the top. Nutritional yeast provides a nutty cheese flavor and is rich in much needed B vitamins.
If you are gluten free, then use the cheese instead of bread crumbs. For egg allergies, just eliminate it like I did but add about a ¼ cup of milk or cheese in the dish to make up for the loss of moisture in the egg.
For kids or people with texture issues, I recommend thinly slicing the turnips with a mandoline to about 1/8” in thickness. This size will still provide a little crunch like you enjoy with water chestnuts and meld the flavors together. My kids felt the large bite size pieces overwhelmed the dish and my daughter coated the turnip chunks in soy sauce to make it more palatable for her. The saltiness balances the flavor of large turnips; she would add soy sauce to everything if I let her.
To ensure everyone gets a crispy portion with plenty of cheese, use a round or oval, shallow gratin pan with a large surface area. The topping is most people’s favorite part and it will help the kids eat their veggies. Serve when warm and the cheese is still gooey.
1) Cook the Jasmine Rice- Follow the directions for your rice. It is best to undercook the rice since it will cook in the oven. Note: Thai Jasmine rice takes about 18-20 minutes to cook after reaching a boil and does not need to sit covered afterwards. I add 1 teaspoon of butter and 1/2 teaspoon of Back to Organic Lemon Twist Himalayan Pink Salt to the 2 cups of water and 1 cup of rice.
2) Mix the Gratin- Peel and thinly slice the turnips. Wash and chop the turnip green leaves. Mix the 1/2 cup of sour cream or creme fraiche or coconut cream (dairy free), 1/4 cup of milk or coconut cream, 1 egg (if using), 1/4 cup of grated parmesan or gruyere, 1/2 teaspoon of Back to Organic Lemon Twist Himalayan and a pinch of black pepper. Fold in the turnip root slices, turnip greens and the rice.
3) Bake the Gratin- Butter or oil the large shallow gratin dish. Add the gratin mixture and top with 1/4 cup of parmesan or gruyere cheese or 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs tossed in olive oil. Sprinkle with more Lemon Twist Himalayan and black pepper. Place in 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes until the sides are bubbling and the cheese or breadcrumbs have browned.
Note: You can prepare the gratin a day ahead of time and then bake when ready. Serve warm. Enjoy!
- Hilary White was the first female executive chef for the Buckhead Life Group. She spent many years at 103 West before opening The Hil in 2007 with her husband and mother. The Hil is located in the heart of Serenbe and receives fresh, organic produce and eggs from the Serenbe farm. Everything is made fresh at the restaurant, not even the bread is brought in so they know every ingredient and can accommodate all guests and their dietary restrictions.
- Hilary has presented at the Morningside Market for 20 years. One year, Ann Brewer went to 103 West to return a dish Hilary left at the market expecting to be able to walk in and thank Hilary again. Instead she was searched and questioned repeatedly for showing up at the restaurant and refused entry. Chef Hilary was in the middle of cooking for VP Al Gore and his party so the restaurant was locked down.
Recipe by Hilary White of The Hil at Serenbe