This turnip puff casserole is really a rutabaga puff casserole because, in fact, it is actually made with rutabaga, not turnip. However, all my life, I have known the root vegetable in the photo below as a “turnip”. Besides, I think turnip puff casserole sounds better than rutabaga puff casserole!
Now, even though turnips and rutabagas are kissing cousins in the mustard plant family, there are some key differences between the two.
Turnips (shown in the photo above) are much smaller than rutabagas. They are usually anywhere from 2″ – 4″ in diameter compared to the much larger rutabagas that are typically 6″ or even more in diameter.
Rutabagas are much sweeter and turnips more bitter. Rutabagas have yellow flesh whereas turnips have white flesh. Rutabagas will have thicker outer skins than turnips and their exterior color will have a purple top and yellowy-beige bottom whereas turnips will have a white or white/purple outer skin. Rutabagas require much longer to grow and are more tolerant to cold than are turnips which is why you will often see turnips advertised as “summer” turnips. Because of their tolerance for the cold, rutabagas are often referred to as a “cold crop” and my grandparents always claimed the rutabagas (that they referred to as turnips) were no good until there had been a good frost before they were harvested. In fact, my grandmother always said the earlier they were harvested in the fall, the more bitter they were which is why, in the fall, she always added a small amount of sugar to the cooked rutabaga as she mashed it.
We often serve the golden-colored mashed rutabaga as a side vegetable to many meals but, sometimes (especially for special occasions), it’s nice to kick this side dish up a notch which is what I do when I make this turnip puff casserole. A rutabaga weighing approximately 1 lb, 7 oz will be required for this recipe. To the cooked rutabaga that is mashed really well to the texture of purée, I add some applesauce and brown sugar for sweetener, some onion to make it just a little bit savory, along with some cheese to boost the flavor. A hint of nutmeg and garlic provide additional flavor. An egg is added to bind the ingredients together and baking powder is added for leavening – hence the “puff” part of this side dish.
Now, I call this a “casserole” and, for photo demonstration purposes, have photographed a piece of it as a stand-alone on a plate. However, this is not a casserole I would make as a main meal entrée. Rather, it is a vegetable side dish so, instead of serving a scoop of mashed rutabaga with dinner, I cut out pieces of this casserole and serve it alongside other vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and peas.
A casserole or baking pan with about a 1.5-quart capacity (or slightly less) is required for this casserole. I find the 6″x8″ baking pan that I have for my toaster oven works perfectly. I would not use a deep casserole dish for this recipe as it would not cut out well for serving purposes so use a shallow baking pan. This recipe will provide six standard-sized serving portions, the size shown in the photographs. If you are serving several other side vegetables for a dinner, or serving this buffet-style, smaller pieces may suffice…..but it’s tasty so don’t be surprised if there are requests for second helpings!
For the breadcrumb topping, I use crumbs that are not super fine as are found in commercial boxes or bags of crumbs. These are ones I crumb (in the food processor) from bread crusts and they are the consistency as shown in the photo below – not super-fine but not overly chunky.
Bake this casserole in the oven for 30-35 minutes, just until the breadcrumb topping is lightly browned. Let stand for about 10 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.
This recipe is easily adapted to be gluten-free — simply replace the breadcrumbs called for in the recipe with those that are gluten-free and use gluten-free all purpose flour.
While this dish may be served at any time of the year, it is especially good at Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas with roast poultry, beef, or pork. This casserole may be made several hours in advance and refrigerated until needed.
[Printable Recipe Follows at end of Posting]
Turnip Puff Casserole
2 cups warm cooked, mashed rutabaga (pre-cooked rutabaga weight apx. 1 lb 7 oz)
1/3 cup applesauce
1 tbsp grated onion
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp brown sugar
¼ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp garlic salt
¾ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp all-purpose flour (or gluten-free all-purpose flour)
2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp finely grated cheddar cheese
Salt and Pepper, to taste
½ cup fine bread crumbs
2 tsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
1½ tbsp melted butter
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 6”x8” baking pan.
In medium-sized saucepan, combine the mashed rutabaga, applesauce, grated onion, butter, and egg. Mix well.
In small bowl, combine the brown sugar, nutmeg, garlic salt, baking powder, flour, Parmesan and cheddar cheese, and salt and pepper, to taste. Stir well into the rutabaga mixture. Transfer to prepared baking pan.
In small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and nutmeg with the melted butter. Sprinkle crumbs over rutabaga mixture. Bake, uncovered, for approximately 30-35 minutes, until lightly browned.
Serve hot as a side dish to any hot meal in which turnip/rutabaga would typically be served.
Yield: Apx. 6 servings
A vegetable side dish made with rutabaga purée, applesauce, cheese, and light seasonings. Perfect accompaniment to roast turkey, beef, or pork.
- 2 cups warm cooked, mashed rutabaga (pre-cooked rutabaga weight apx. 1 lb 7 oz)
- 1/3 cup applesauce
- 1 tbsp grated onion
- 2 tbsp butter, softened
- 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp garlic salt
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour (or gluten-free all purpose flour)
- 2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp finely grated cheddar cheese
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- ½ cup fine bread crumbs
- 2 tsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
- Pinch nutmeg
- 1½ tbsp melted butter
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 6”x8” baking pan.
- In medium-sized saucepan, combine the mashed rutabaga, applesauce, grated onion, butter, and egg. Mix well.
- In small bowl, combine the brown sugar, nutmeg, garlic salt, baking powder, flour, Parmesan and cheddar cheese, and salt and pepper, to taste. Stir well into the rutabaga mixture. Transfer to prepared baking pan.
- In small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and nutmeg with the melted butter. Sprinkle crumbs over rutabaga mixture. Bake, uncovered, for approximately 30-35 minutes, until lightly browned. Serve hot as a side dish to any hot meal in which turnip/rutabaga would typically be served.