Vegetarian Baeckoffe

Translated from the Germanic Alsatian dialect, baeckeoffe means “baker’s oven,” as it was traditionally a dish that was brought to the local baker to cook in his oven. Classic versions are loaded with meat, but our vegetarian riff is equally hearty and rich.

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 pound sliced mushroom caps
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 large thyme sprig
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 cups vertically sliced onion (about 2 medium onions)
  • 1 (8-ounce) Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into (1/4-inch-thick) slices
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 (6-ounce) turnip, peeled and cut into (1/8-inch-thick) slices
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.  Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms to pan, and sauté 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add wine; cook 2 minutes. Add parsley, thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Uncover and cook 6 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Remove from heat; discard thyme. Add cream cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Remove mushroom mixture from pan. Wipe pan clean with paper towels.  Heat pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion; saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium; continue cooking for 15 minutes or until deep golden brown, stirring frequently. Set aside.  Coat a 6-cup baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange potato slices in dish, and top with spinach. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper evenly over spinach. Spoon the mushroom mixture over black pepper, and arrange turnip slices over mushroom mixture. Top with caramelized onions; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and tarragon. Pour whipping cream over tarragon, and sprinkle evenly with Gruyère cheese. Cover and bake at 350° for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender and cheese begins to brown.

Yield:  4 servings (serving size: about 1 1/4 cups)

Turnips Marinated in Dill Dressing

  • 8 turnips cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 5 tsp. salt
  • 4 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped dill leaves
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

Place turnips in a pan and cover with water.  Add 1 tsp of salt and 1 Tbs. of sugar to the water.  Cook for 15 minutes and drain.  Mix remaining salt and sugar with vinegar, lemon juice, wine and pepper.  Marinate turnips in this mixture for 24 hrs.  Before serving drain turnips and sprinkle with dill.

Turnips And Spinach

  • 1½ pounds spinach, washed
  • 5 turnips, peeled, sliced
  • ½ cup cream, boiled
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Seasonings to taste

Boil separately the spinach and turnips in salted water for about 20 minutes.

Drain off water.

Mix together.

Add the cream, butter and seasonings.

Mix well with a fork, and let cook together for about 2 minutes.

Then serve.

Spinach and Turnip Bhaji

  • 7 ounces small turnips, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 pound frozen chopped spinach or other greens
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil.  Add the turnips.  Cook 1 – 2 minutes. Add the spinach and paprika.  Cook 2 – 3 minutes or until all the water has evaporated. Mash the mixture to the best of your ability and remove from heat. Heat the oil in a second saucepan over low heat. Add the ginger and onion and cook 2 – 3 minutes.  Add the vegetables from the first saucepan.  Mix well and toss until everything is well seasoned.  Serve with the lemon juice.

Rutabaga and Potato Gratin

Rutabagas can be thinly sliced and layered with potatoes and sliced onions in a perked-up version of potatoes au gratin.  Butter a deep 3 quart casserole.  Layer thinly sliced potatoes, rutabagas and/or turnips in the bottom, season with salt and pepper.  Cover with a layer of onions, sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. flour, dot with 1-2 Tbsp. butter, and cover with a layer of cheese.  Repeat this layering 3 more times.  Heat about 1 qt milk to just below boiling and pour over layered vegetables to cover.  Cover and bake in a 350o oven for 45-60 minutes or until milk comes to a boil and bubbles.  Remove cover and bake for another 30-45 minutes, until root vegetables are tender and the top is browned.

Adapted from The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash.

Moroccan Turnip and Chicken Stew

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 2 small (2 1/2 lb) chickens
  • 3 Tb butter
  • 1 Tb oil
  • 2 onions
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp powdered saffron
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 lb small  turnips
  • 2 cups chopped turnip leaves and stems
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Rinse chickpeas in water and rub lightly to remove skins; drain and set aside. Cut chickens into quarters, removing wing tips and backbones; put them aside for stock. Melt butter and oil in a casserole and lightly brown chicken on all sides, cooking in two batches if necessary. Slice onions and stir into butter and oil to color. Then add the chickpeas, stock, pepper, ginger, saffron, and turmeric. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add turnips and greens and simmer 20 minutes more. Remove chicken and turnips to a covered warm dish. Boil sauce to reduce, mashing some of the chickpeas against the side of the pan to thicken the sauce; it may take 10-15 minutes to produce a nice thick sauce. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Reheat the chicken and turnips in the sauce and serve.

Serves 6 to 8.

From The Victory Garden Cookbook.

Maye’s Beets

This recipe calls for beets, but I have used turnips, rutabagas and celeriac too, and they were all great. The beets make a fuschia-colored salad though, and are definitely the prettiest. I have taken this dish to potlucks and gotten rave reviews, a pretty good trick for a root vegetable.

  • 2-3 medium beets
  • 3 T. sour cream or yoghurt
  • 1 T. prepared horseradish, or to taste
  • ¼  t. salt
  • ¼ t. sugar
  • dash of black pepper, to taste

Cut off the stems of the beet greens, scrub but don’t peel. (Save the greens for another dish, or use them as a garnish for this one.) Boil the beets in water to cover until they are easily pierced with a fork. Drain and cool. When cool, rub off the peel, and cut into thin strips, or for the talented among you, julienne them. There should be about 2 cups. Blend the sour cream or yoghurt with the horseradish, salt, sugar and pepper. Add the beets and stir gently. Chill and serve.

From Sundays at Moosewood.

Indian Medley

  • 3 new potatoes
  • 1 c. snap peas
  • 1 kohlrabi or peeled broccoli stems
  • 2 turnips
  • small head of broccoli
  • 1 apple
  • ¼ cabbage
  • 2 Tbsp.vegetable oil
  • tamari
  • fresh lemon juice
  • 1 15-ounce jar of Curry Simmer Sauce

Chop all the vegetables and saute in vegetable oil.  Season with tamari and lemon juice.  Add simmer sauce.  Serve with fresh cilantro and cashews.

Daniel’s Kim Chee

This is a general kim chee recipe, adaptable to any vegetable, sent to us by our friend Daniel, who did an internship at the Cultured Pickle in the Bay Area. While these instructions are for turnip, cauliflower and carrot, the method works for any combination of vegetable.

-Shredded pickles: this is essentially the same method for sauerkraut but it works really well with root vegetables. Basically you shred the vegetables (with a food processor is easiest) and then salt them. The salt draws moisture out of the veggies creating a brine. Here are step-by-step instructions for this method.

1. Wash the roots and cauliflower and trim off any soft spots

2. Weigh all the veggies and record the weight

3. Calculate anywhere from 1.5 – 2% of the vegetable weight and weigh out that much salt.

4. Shred the root vegetables and cut the cauliflower into small pieces combining all in a giant bowl as you go.

5. Thoroughly mix the shredded roots and cauliflower with the salt (you can add any spices, chopped garlic, shredded ginger, minced anchovies, herbs or citrus zests that you want at this point. Be aware that garlic flavor tends to bloom and get stronger during the pickling process).

6. Let the mixture sit for a couple of hours and see how the liquid is drawn from the vegetables.

7. Pack the vegetables with their liquid into a crock or as many gallon glass jars as it takes to hold them. Try to press out as much air as you can and leave some head room because the fermentation will bubble up.

8. Put some sort of cover on the surface of the veggies and a weight on top of the cover to keep them pressed under their liquid. I like to use the outer leaves from a head of cabbage folded as needed to cover the shredded vegetables with a gallon jug of water as weight.

9. Let the jars ferment for anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks. It should be in a corner somewhere with a temp around 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit. Taste it as it goes. Push it back down every once in a while. Skim off any mold or white yeast blooms that show up on the surface (they are not harmful, don’t worry).

10. When the flavor has gotten sour enough for you, pack the pickles into jars in the fridge to stop them changing further, or move them to a cool root cellar. (If you want the pickles to be stable for months and years at above refrigeration temperature, you can up the salt percentage to near 3%.


-Whole Brined pickles: these are very easy and quick and take less shredding.

1. Wash and trim the vegetables

2. Cut the cauliflower into florets and if the roots are large I would cut them into about two-inch chunks.

3. Make a brine: measure out enough water that you will be able to cover all the prepared vegetables in your crock or gallon jars. Then dissolve in this water 50 percent of its weight in salt. For example, 1 liter of water gets 50 grams of salt, 6 liters gets 300 grams of salt. Also add any flavoring to the brine like flowering dill and smashed heads of garlic. I like to add a bunch of dried chiles. Chile flakes and ground spices are good too. You can also heat the brine to dissolve the salt and add the spices like a tea for more flavor,  just make sure it has cooled completely before the next step.

4. Put all the prepped vegetables in your fermentation container and pour the brine over to cover them completely.

5. Again put some sort of cover with a weight to keep the vegetables from coming to the surface.

6. Let them ferment for at least two weeks. Check them as they go.

7. Refrigerate to stop the process or put in a cool place to slow it down.

Batter Fried Parsnip

Here is a recipe for scorzonera that works equally well for other root vegetables like celeriac, parsnips, turnips or daikon radish:

  • 4-5 cups cold water
  • 3 Tbs vinegar
  • 3-4 scorzonera roots
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Canola oil for frying

Place cold water and vinegar in a sauce pan.  Peel the roots and cut into 2-inch chunks.  Place in saucepan and parboil the roots 6-8 minutes.  Drain and pat dry.  In a deep skillet, bring 2 inches of oil up to frying temperature over medium heat.  While the oil is heating, put the flour and salt in a bowl and whisk in the ice water (using ice water helps create a crispier batter when it is fried).  When the oil is hot (a drop of batter will have bubbles form around it and start cooking immediately), dip the scorzonera 4 or 5 pieces at a time into the batter and slip them into the hot oil.  Cook until golden brown.  Remove with a slotted spoon, drain and keep warm in the oven until all the pieces are cooked.  These can be served alone or with parsley mayonnaise or other dips.

From Down to Earth by Georgeanne Brennan.