Purple top turnips are the last turnips to make it to our CSA Shares. They are almost always a part of our winter share boxes, and surprisingly one they’re one of my favorites! Purple top turnips have a sharper flavor than pink turnips or Hakurei turnips making them great for slaws and salads. Like radishes the sharpness mellows when baked. Turning them into a simple gratin is a great way to use up most of the turnips in your share box. This dish also makes a nice addition to holiday meals in lieu of potatoes.
A healthy dose of dijon mustard gives this gratin an edge, but you can reduce the amount if you prefer. Like the turnips it mellows considerably when baked. While this dish is rich, it has just enough butter and a clean simple flavor. If you really want to make it decadent, add a 1/2 cup of finely shredded gruyere or other hard cheese to the top before baking.
This dish is deliberately very easy to prepare, and the half and half or cream might curdle during baking (it probably will). It won’t affect the flavor at all, so don’t be alarmed by it. Making a béchamel like in this gratin prevents curdling but requires more steps and pans. Enjoy this one pot dish!
Once the turnips are peeled and sliced they’re just layered in the pan with a few pats of butter (optional), and the simple sauce. Bake wrapped in foil so the top doesn’t dry out. I baked mine uncovered for the last ten minutes so the top would brown nicely.
4 medium sized turnips, peeled and thinly sliced
3/4 cup half & half, cream or whole milk
3 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
few grinds fresh black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced in half
Preheat oven to 350°F. Rub the garlic all over the inside of a gratin dish or pie pan. Whisk together the half & half, mustard, thyme, salt, and pepper. Grease the dish with butter, then layer about half of the turnips in an even layer. Start at the center and arrange the slices in a circular pattern. Pour half of the sauce over the dish. Slice the butter into 8 even slices and place four slices over the top. Repeat with remaining turnips, sauce, and butter. Cover tightly with foil and bake for one hour. Turnips should be very tender. Bake for an additional 10 minutes uncovered. Serve warm.