Turnip and anchovy gratin

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Anna Tobias's turnip gratin is flavoured with punchy anchovies and sprinkled with Parmesan and parsley breadcrumbs for a deeply umami-rich and unctuous dish, best served with red meats. Read Anna's article for more inspired recipes using the under-appreciated turnip.

First published in 2019

This is a very decadent and unctuous recipe. The turnip acts as a sponge to the anchovy-infused cream but also keeps its character, adding its bitter edge to proceedings. This recipe would go particularly well with red meat as a side dish, or else would be a delicious meal on its own served with a peppery watercress salad.

This dish works just as well with other root vegetables, such as celeriac or Jerusalem artichokes. Equally, if you would rather keep this dish vegetarian, then the anchovies can be omitted and replaced with a washed-rind cheese such as Taleggio or Reblochon. In this instance, dice the cheese quite small and mix with the potatoes and turnips.




Turnip and anchovy gratin


  • Food processor


Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 3
Tear the stale bread into bite-sized chunks and toss in the olive oil. Place in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and set aside, then turn the oven up to 180°C/gas mark 4
  • 250g of stale bread, crusts removed
  • 75ml of olive oil
While the bread is in the oven, slice the turnips and potatoes into thin rounds (about the thickness of a pound coin)
Melt half of the butter in a large saucepan (it needs to be large enough to comfortably hold the potato and turnip slices later), then add the anchovies and stir until they melt. Crush the medium garlic clove and add to the anchovies. Pour over the cream and bring to the boil. Taste the cream and season – the seasoning wants to be fairly punchy, as this is what will season the potatoes and turnips. Lots of black pepper is a good thing in this dish
Add the turnips and potatoes to the cream and stir well to coat the slices
Butter an ovenproof gratin dish with the remaining butter then pour in the turnips and potatoes. Cover with foil and place in the oven for 1 hour
Roughly chop the parsley and remaining small garlic clove. Place them in a food processor along with the crunchy bread pieces and a pinch of salt, and blend until you have coarse breadcrumbs. Mix these herby breadcrumbs with the Parmesan
Once the turnips have been in the oven for an hour, remove the foil. Check the cream – it should be level with the top of the potatoes and turnips. Top up if necessary. Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and return to the oven for a final 30 minutes. If the breadcrumbs colour too quickly, turn the oven down to 160°C/gas mark 3. Serve immediately

Previously guest head chef at East London favourite P. Franco, Anna Tobias has built a career on simple but effective cookery.

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