The Humble “Vermont State Vegetable” Gets Dressed Up in a Soufflé, and Dressed Down in a Humble Soup or Sauté!
Turnip soufflé? I know. Turnips are a common vegetable, peasant food, abundant in heartiness, and modest in appearance. Some would even say ugly. Soufflé brings to mind images of French restaurants and fancy brunch with champagne. Can these two create a happy marriage?
After the first hard freeze in Southern Vermont, farmers start harvesting the Gilfeather Turnip, named for the farmer from Wardsboro who developed it. This hardy local vegetable, our “official state vegetable,” (complete with an annual festival) is sweeter than the usual turnip, and often referred to as part turnip, part rutabaga. To read about this delightful vegetable’s history, read more here: Gilfeather Story.
Made the soup, now what?
I scored my first batch this week, and started off with a flavorful soup (recipe here), one of my favorite uses of the vegetable other than just steaming them and adding a little butter. With a couple of turnips left to cook, I looked on-line for some inspiration and surprisingly found several versions of turnip soufflé!
I loved the idea and fiddled with an older recipe of my mothers for carrot soufflé, my starting point. Wanting to keep it dairy free so my whole family could enjoy it, I resisted the urge to make a béchamel and proceed as with a standard soufflé technique, but I added my own French twists and turns, including the last of my French tarragon from this year’s garden, and settled on this incarnation.
Supper or Side?
This side dish pairs well with many mains, but is also great for a simple weeknight supper with a side salad. It could easily serve as a Thanksgiving side as well.
You will need four cups of leeks and carrots, in whatever combination you like. If you cannot find Gilfeather turnips, substitute a purple-topped turnip, or mix of these and rutabaga. You can omit the carrot altogether, but I think it enhances the flavor. You can also make this using leftover turnips from another meal, even quicker!
Also, if you can find the tops, the greens, chop them up and throw them in the last couple of minutes when the leeks are cooking.
Gilfeather Turnip Soufflé
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- 3 cups Gilfeather turnips
- 1 large carrot or parsnip
Place in a pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil with a little salt. Cover, reduce the heat, and cook until tender. Once tender, drain and mash.
While vegetables are cooking, combine in a large skillet:
- 2 Tbsp. Butter
- 2 cups leeks, minced
- 1 tbsp. fresh French tarragon, minced
Cook until leeks are tender, but not browned. Add the turnips, and set everything aside to cool.
In a small bowl, beat together:
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp. grainy French mustard
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp. dark maple syrup
Add to the cooled vegetables.
In a larger bowl with a hand mixer, beat to stiff peaks:
- 4 Egg Whites
Mix about ¼ of the egg whites into the vegetable combination, then gently fold in the rest of them. Place the mixture in a buttered oval casserole dish, and top with:
- 2 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, optional
Fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites. Put in greased baking or soufflé dish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until browned and solid in middle.
Gilfeather Turnip & Roasted Garlic Soup
Gilfeather Turnip & Leeks with Apple Cider
© Copyright 2018 – or current year, Dorothy Grover-Read