Scalloped potatoes were a special meal staple of my childhood. I remember my mom slicing the potatoes, making the roux, and layering it all together. It seemed to always go with roast ham, although I’m sure we had it as a side with other meats as well. I have this memory of this side dish being very labor intensive for Mom–of course, it always went with special meals which are more labor intensive anyway. My Paleo version is much easier to put together, in part because a mandoline slicer takes all the slicing work away, and in part because my creamy sauce doesn’t require the stirring and slow addition of ingredients that a traditional roux takes. But, it has all those great flavors. Who knew that turnips could substitute for potatoes so well!
I personally can’t eat potatoes because they are a member of the nightshade family, to which I am very sensitive. Some people include them as part of their diet, and some do not (they are accepted as Paleo now, but weren’t for long time due to their glycoalkaloid and content and not being as nutrient-dense as other starchy vegetables). Whether you’re avoiding potatoes simply due to their carbohydrate density, or because you too can’t eat nightshades, you’ll be happy to know that the texture and flavor of turnips makes a fantastic replacement for the potatoes in this dish. If you want to use potatoes instead, go ahead!
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cooking Time: 50 minutes
- 1 1/2 lbs turnips (large radishes such as daikon or rutabaga work well too)
- 1 small head cauliflower (5 to 6 cups florets)
- 2 cups broth
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup ghee (or substitute butter or lard)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Slice the turnips into very thin rounds, approximately 1/8″ (a mandoline slicer makes this job quick and easy). Cut the cauliflower into florets. You can also use the cauliflower stems; cut those into small pieces.
- Bring the broth to a simmer over medium-high heat and add the cauliflower. Simmer the cauliflower until slightly overcooked, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F.
- Pour the broth and the cauliflower into a blender. Add the ghee and blend on high until you have a completely smooth puree (20 seconds to a minute, depending on your blender).
- Beat the egg slightly in a bowl and then temper the egg. To temper the egg, add a spoon full of the hot cauliflower puree to the egg while stirring vigorously. Add another spoonful the same way. And then a third spoonful.
- Now, add the tempered egg to the cauliflower puree and blend to combine. Taste your puree. If needed, add salt and pepper (it should be slightly over-seasoned, meaning just a bit too salty, because the turnips will dilute the seasoning once baked).
- Lay the turnips a bottom of a 9″ x 9″ casserole pan or baking pan (it doesn’t need to be neat), and pour the cauliflower puree over the top. Stir to make sure the turnip slices are well coated in the sauce and then smooth out to make sure the turnip slices are all lying flat.
- Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbling and the turnips are soft with just a little bit of give when pierced with a knife. To brown the top layer, broil for 3 to 5 minutes at the end.
Scalloped No-Tato with Ham Variation: Ham is a delightful addition to this side dish. Cut ham into 1/4″ cubes, and saute with a tablespoon of ghee in a frying pan until browned. Fold into turnips and sauce before baking.
AIP Variation: Using lard instead of ghee or butter and skipping the egg and pepper works very well for this dish! You miss out a bit on the richness of the sauce, but it’s still very creamy and flavorful!