Turnips or swedes are a superb reliable Irish winter root vegetable and they grow happily here on the farm. They are sweet and slightly peppery, crisp when raw and buttery when cooked. They are often overlooked but given a bit of thought and attention turnip can be totally delicious.
This dish is closely based on a recipe by Denis Cotter, chef and owner of the well known Cork restaurant Cafe Paradiso. Cotter has added sweetness with the slow cooked leeks, maple syrup, toasty notes from the walnuts and breadcrumbs and lots of flavour from the herbs. We couldn’t wait to dive into this delicious gratin and neither will you!
Ingredients: makes 6 portions
- 1 large swede/turnip – 550g approx
- 2 leeks, halved lengthways and well washed
- 30g butter, plus extra for greasing
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
- 100ml dry white wine or vegetable stock with a dash of cider vinegar
- 250ml double cream
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
For the crust:
- 8 fresh sage leaves, chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped chives
- 50g white bread
- 50g walnuts
- 30g butter
Step 1: Preheat the oven 170ºc fan. Butter an oven dish, approx 9inc x 6inc.
Step 2: Wash and peel the turnip and chop into quarters. Slice the quarters thinly 5mm with a mandolin or sharp knife. Heat a pot of salted water until simmering, add all the sliced turnip and cook for 10 – 15 minutes until soft. Strain and set to one side.
Step 3: Meanwhile, chop the leeks in to 2 cm slices. Melt the butter on a pan and sauté the leeks and chopped garlic until soft then stir through the thyme leaves, wine or stock with vinegar, cream, salt and pepper. Simmer for a further few minutes.
Step 4: To the buttered dish, add a layer of turnip, a layer of creamy leeks and repeat 3 times. Push down and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
Step 5: To make the crust, blend the bread first, then add the walnuts, sage, chives, salt and pepper blend again, finally add the butter blend again. Scatter the herby breadcrumb on top and bake for a further 10 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes then serve.
This would work as a main dish with some greens and mushy pulses or as a side dish too.