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Gilfeather Turnip Casserole

Gilfeather turnip casserole with sausage

Here’s one more root vegetable recipe before we switch over to asparagus and salad greens. I clipped this out of a New York Magazine while we still lived in NYC, because we occasionally shopped at Windfall Farms. I also don’t really have any good rutabaga recipes, other than our standard roast-everything-in-a-pan method. “Hold on there, Lindsay”, you might say, “The title of this post says ‘turnip’ not ‘rutabaga’.” Yes, observant reader, it is actually a rutabaga, but Mr. John Gilfeather thought it was a turnip. Also, Jerusalem artichokes are neither Israeli nor artichokes. What can I say? Vegetable identity crisis.

The Gilfeather turnip is a Slow Food Ark of Taste product, which makes it worth seeking out. The Ark of Taste program finds and protects endangered flavors – those beloved by old-timers, but threatened by industrial agriculture. Just for fun, here are some other Ark of Taste products from the Northeast.

  • Bay scallops
  • Boiled cider (used as a sweetener)
  • “Old-Type” Rhode Island Red chicken
  • Shrub (okay, not technically a Northeast thing, but a new favorite of mine)
  • True Red Cranberry bean

Kind of makes me want to make an Ark of Taste bingo game…

Back the to rutabaga! It looks like a big white turnip, but is a little milder with less of a bite. Originating in southern Vermont, it’s even more local to us now that we’ve moved to Boston, so I was delighted to find one in one of our last CSA pick-ups.

This would make a great light lunch, but we cooked up some sausages to make a more substantial meal. It was nice and fluffy, like mashed potatoes, but with a more complex flavor – just enough peppery-ness.

Gilfeather Turnip Casserole

Serves 4 as a side or 2 as an entrée

Amount Ingredient Preparation Where we bought it (SWM = Somerville Winter Market)
2 to 2 1/2 pounds Gilfeather turnips You can use regular rutabagas if you can’t find Gilfeathers. Red Fire Farm
2 Eggs Red Fire Farm
1/2 cup Milk Shaw Farm (SWM)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Nutmeg Freshly grated, if you can
Dash Ground allspice
3 TBsp All purpose flour Wild Hive Farm
1 TBsp Butter Shaw Farm (SWM)
2 TBsp Bread crumbs

Directions

  1. Peel the rutabagas and chop them into cubes. Try to make the chunks close in size, so that they all cook in the same amount of time.
  2. In a medium pot, add the rutabagas, a pinch of salt, and enough water to cover. Boil until the rutabagas are soft, about 30 minutes.
  3. Once the rutabagas are soft, drain them and allow them to cool for a few minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Put the rutabagas, eggs, milk, salt, spices, and flour into a food processor and process until smooth. If you don’t have a food processor, you can mash everything by hand, but I’d recommend mashing the rutabagas until they’re smooth first, then the eggs (one at a time), then the rest. This will help you get all the chunks out.
  6. Rub just a little of the butter on the bottom and sides of a 1-quart soufflé dish. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish.
  7. Use a fork to mash the remaining butter into the bread crumbs and sprinkle it over the top of the rutabaga mash.
  8. Bake for an hour or until the buttery crumbs are nicely browned.

Gilfeather turnip casserole

Looking at that photo, I think that it would be a really pretty side for dinner guests if it were baked in individual ramekins. It’s not terribly attractive sunk down in that big soufflé dish (we don’t have a 1-quart one, so I used what we had).

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