Apples and sweet turnips cooked in a creamy bechamel sauce and topped with cheesy breadcrumbs: The comfort-food way to eat your winter veggies. ~ by Serena Ball, MS,RD
So if you’re not jetting off to some tropical location, hopefully you’re hunkering down for a cozy week of chilling out with the kids. At our house, that means playing games; two new favorites just happen to be food-themed and are hilarious: Bugs in the Kitchen and Toasted or Roasted – The S’mores card game. But even if you’re not sitting in front of the fireplace, there’s a lot of reasons to be serving up casseroles all winter long. Not the least of which is they are super-convenient and healthy and exceedingly kid-friendly.
Now casseroles occasionally get a bad rap as gluey and gloppy, passé (as in originating from 60’s cookbooks)– or rather unhealthy. However, as a dietitian (who grew up on casseroles!) I say they are:
Fresh and seasonal – Yes, root veggies are in season right now. Turnips, rutabagas, potatoes and parsnips that have been grown locally can still be found in most parts of the country.
Possibly retro, but definitely hip – With chefs crafting new and fresh flavors on winter comfort food, casseroles are ultimately on the menu. And we food bloggers know casseroles are some of our most popular posts.
Totally healthy – Using a bit of butter, oil or bacon provides fat – and it’s this fat that allows the body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K that are found in vegetables. Plus, once covered in a light cheese sauce, toasted breadcrumbs or the following easy-bechamel sauce, veggies have a greater chance of getting eaten.
So for healthy, cozy casseroles recipes, check out:
Wasabi Crab Casserole – My family’s New Year’s Eve traditionPrint
Turnip Roasted Apple Bake
Apples and sweet root vegetables cooked in a cider-spiked creamy bechamel sauce and topped with cheese breadcrumbs: The comfort-food way to eat your winter veggies.
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- 2 pounds turnips, rutabagas, parsnips carrots or combination, peeled, diced in 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 large apples (unpeeled) cored, diced in 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 1/2 cups apple cider
- 1 small sweet or yellow onion, sliced in very thin rings
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 large fresh thyme sprig (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 pieces whole wheat sandwich bread, toasted then crumbled
- 2 teaspoons butter
- 1/3 cup walnut pieces, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup grated white sharp Cheddar cheese, I used Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray large baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Combine turnips (and optional other veggies), apples, cider, onion and 1 cup water in a large saucepan. Heat to a boil over medium-high heat; cover and reduce heat to simmer until turnips are tender-crisp, about 15 minutes.
- Set a colander over a large measuring cup. Drain the turnip-apple mixture, reserving cooking liquid. Transfer the turnip mixture to the baking dish.
- For the bechamel, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour and stir with a wooden spoon until mixture is smooth. Cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute more. Stir in apple cider vinegar; whisk until the mixture is smooth. Add 1 1/2 cups of the reserved cider in 1/2 cup increments, whisking after each addition. When all the cider is incorporated, use your fingers to strip most of the thyme leaves from sprig; add the thyme leaves set aside sprig. Cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the turnips and apples in the baking dish, stirring the mixture to make sure the sauce is evenly distributed. Nestle thyme sprig in middle of dish.
- In a medium bowl, toss together breadcrumbs, butter, walnuts and Cheddar. Scatter mixture over the top of the turnip-apple mixture.
- Bake, uncovered, until the topping is browned and the turnip mixture is bubbly, 20-30 minutes.
This recipe was adapted from Cider-braised turnip and apple gratin via the Chicago Tribune
Do you have a comfort food casserole favorite? What are you doing this week- hopefully on vacation!?