Scalloped Turnips

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You'll find this recipe in:
The New Galt Cook Book
Compiled and Edited by: Margaret Taylor and Frances McNaught
Toronto, 1898

Historic Recipe:

Cut them into slices, stew them in water, adding a little butter and salt. When tender draw off what liquid is left and use it for sauce, which you make of a heaped teaspoonful of flour and the same of butter. Now butter a dish, put in a layer of the sliced turnips, dust with pepper and spread some of the sauce over it, then another layer of turnips, and so on until they are used up. Dust some grated Parmesan cheese over the top and put flakes of butter here and there. Bake in oven until light brown, and serve in the same dish. Bread crumbs may be used instead of cheese.

My Recipe:

Parmesan cheese and/or breadcrumbs

1) Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C) and butter your baking dish. Peel and slice your turnips. I used a 56 oz (1650 mL) casserole dish and I ended up using 6 turnips, but I probably could have gone with 7. Boil the turnips in water with a little butter and salt until tender. Strain, but be sure to keep the cooking liquid for the sauce.

2) To make the sauce, I melted a heaping tablespoon of butter in a pan, then added a heaping tablespoon of flour. Then I very gradually added 1 cup (250 mL) of the cooking water, stirring constantly. Once entirely incorporated, I allowed it to simmer until it began to thicken. I made this recipe 2.5 times to have enough sauce for my casserole.

3) Arrange a layer of turnips in your baking dish, dust with pepper and spoon a layer of sauce on top. Repeat until you've used all your turnip slices.

4) Sprinkle a layer of grated Parmesan cheese or breadcrumbs, or a combination of the two. The historic recipe suggests putting "flakes of butter here and there" with the Parmesan or breadcrumbs, but this method left little buttery pools and areas of dry breadcrumbs on top of my Scalloped Turnips. If you're using breadcrumbs,try melting some butter in a pan or microwave and stirring in the breadcrumbs in the butter before adding it to the top.

5) Bake about 20 minutes until golden on top.


I wanted to prepare one last root vegetable recipe before the greens & herbs start popping up here in Ontario, and I thought I'd turn to a local cookbook to find one. The New Galt Cook Book is a community cookbook that was published in 1898. I grew up quite close to Cambridge, Ontario and it's also close to where I live now in Hamilton. Cambridge is comprised of three towns which have run into each other over time: Hespler, Preston and Galt. I drive through Galt often when I decide to take a more scenic route to and from visiting my Mom and it has a picturesque downtown with beautiful stone buildings and bridges.

Scalloped Turnips is an interesting twist on scalloped potatoes. The turnips provide additional flavour to the dish, and it is creamy but also light because the sauce uses a butter & flour roux and the cooking water from the turnips instead of a white bechamel sauce. This recipe would be easy to make vegan and lactose & gluten free, just by substituting the flour and oil for the butter. I only had breadcrumbs in the house, but I think sprinkling grated Parmesan on top instead of or in combination with the breadcrumbs would be scrumptious. If you try this recipe with Parmesan, pop back and give a review in the comments.

Coincidentally, I had this recipe selected and the turnips purchased before I knew that cooking at an event using recipes from The New Galt Cook Book was even a possibility! It's funny how life lines up sometimes. I'll be preparing food from this cookbook for a Victorian Tea at the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario on May 18th, and Food Historian Carolyn Blackstock will be speaking about her year-old journey making a recipe a day from The New Galt Cook Book.

Have a look at Carolyn Blackstock's experience making Scalloped Turnips on her Cooking with the Galt Cook Book blog. She proposes trying this recipe with both potatoes and turnips and I agree that it would be a great idea!

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