Thanksgiving Turnip Twist

turnipsIn a time long, long ago, I watched my grandmother boil turnips and mash them and then place them on the Thanksgiving table as if offering the sweetest dish imaginable. My dad would sing the praises of this Thanksgiving offering, and as a little girl, I learned to love the purple-orange vegetable of ill-repute.

Decades later, I boiled and mashed and served turnips on my Thanksgiving table. My guy compared turnips to garlic – he disliked both. But turnips became a vegetable my kids learned to revere. turnips, mashed turnips

But this year, Thanksgiving was not at my house. This year, we were invited to good friends, who happen to be the parents of our son-in-law. In a wide web of texts between a dozen people, we guests began to offer what we’d bring to “the table.”

“Cajun stuffing and oyster stuffing,” DD texted.

Ugh, I thought, why would anyone ruin stuffing with something from the sea?

“Turducken,” my SIL texted.

Ugh, what’s wrong with the ole tradition of a pilgrim’s turkey? Now we have to eat some combination of turkey, duck and chicken? Yikes.

“Carrot casserole,” a friend of the family suggested in her text.

Carrot? Something healthy on Thanksgiving Day? Ridiculous.

“Ice cream pie,” my guy texted gleefully.

Really? I prefer my daughter’s MIL’s amazing apple pie, or her chocolate pie, that she makes for these special occasions. Who wants ice cream pie in November?

Finally, I decided to chime in with my own text suggestion.

“Turnips! Mashed just right!!”


A pause in the frantic texting.

I wait for some enthusiastic emoji, like happy emoji, pinterest  or   . smile

But nothing.

Finally, an hour later, my SIL’s father, the host of this food-laden dinner, bravely texted

“Oh, sorry Pam. I have strict doctor’s orders not to consume any turnips.”

And then texts from a dozen others who proclaimed:

“Me too!”

“Amazing, I got the same diagnosis!”

“Yeah, turnips give me gas.”

“Never tried them, but have been told I’d never recover if I did.”

So, I brought a zucchini casserole with a wry smile, and truly, joy in the textual fun of family and friends.

Next year, though, perhaps I’ll host Thanksgiving, and sweetly suggest that no one need bring a thing. I’ll cook it all… including a HUGE POT OF MASHED TURNIPS with this little card attached to each Thanksgiving plate:

turnip health benefits







With a grin and a wink, I wish you all a wonderful weekend of Thanksgiving grace and blessings.


124 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Turnip Twist

  1. I have only recently rediscovered turnips and I love them! They are so easy to roast and they have such a wonderful taste. Hope you enjoyed your family Thanksgiving despite the lack of turnips!

    • Isn’t it funny how our ‘taste buds’ change, Mary? I was like that with curried chicken. If my mom tried to serve me curried chicken, I’d run from the table and cry in my room until bed time. Now, I order it when at my favorite restaurant every time I go out for lunch, on a bed of lettuce and surrounded by fruit slices. Hmm, I bet curried chicken would taste good with turnips! 🙂

  2. I love hearing about people’s special Thanksgiving traditions. I can’t say that mashed turnips would be my first choice, but I would definitely try them if you brought them.
    There will probably be something about this in my Monday Morning Musings. 🙂

    Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    • Ohhh, Jill, please! Try some mashed turnips with salt and pepper. Or cube some in your next stew. You might be surprised. As far as the ice cream pie…hmmm, you’re right. A tiny sliver of it next to a sliver of pumpkin pie is j u s t r I g h t . 🙂

  3. Pam, I hope you and yours had a lovely Thanksgiving. Turnip always was and still is one of my favorite foods on Thanksgiving. I wish you lots of buttery mashed turnips next year!

    • I hope you try it, Kate, and tell me the results. Here’s a secret that I learned from my mom. After boiling the turnips cubes so they’re soft enough to mash, add a little orange juice (instead of milk), with butter, salt and tiny bit of pepper as you mash them. Somehow, they always come out just right. Of course, a spoonful of gravy on top adds to the perfection.

  4. I smiled all the way through this! 🙂

    As a child, I didn’t like turnips either, something about the after-taste didn’t agree with me. I’m a potato girl when it comes to root veggies. However, on Thanksgiving day, I’d try yours and not make such a big fuss about it.

    When my kids were little, I thought liver was very healthy for them (?) and served the dish smothered in lots of onions. Because they turned up their noses, I may even have lied about it a time or two and said I was serving pork chops. Bad Momma!

    • Oh, funny Momma – to trick your kids into eating liver. Good job! I remember eating lots of liver (which I disliked immensely) when I was pregnant because it was supposed to be so good for me and the baby growing inside. Haven’t had any since, believe me!
      Re the mashed turnips – as I told Kate, above, boil them nice and soft and mash with a little bit of OJ, salt and pepper. I think you might be surprised – no aftertaste, I promise. 🙂

  5. We’re now in North Carolina. Yesterday we gobbled up my New England daughter-in-law’s mashed turnips (called rutabagas here). But we have not developed a taste for candied sweet potatoes embedded with miniature marshmallows.

    • Ohhh, sounds like you had a great NE feast. Yes, I’ve never quite figured out the difference between turnip and rutabaga. Probably the same vegetable, just different name. Turnips/rutabagas are for ‘adults,’ candied sweet potatoes are for ‘kiddies.’ There, that’s what I think. Hope you’re having a great time in North Carolina.

  6. I think turnips must have been cheaper than potatoes when I was a kid and I was always disappointed when the mashed ones turned up on the table instead of my favorite food, mashed potatoes. I haven’t eaten them since but need to try them roasted.
    My special food at Thanksgiving goes back to the first ones we shared with another couple many years ago. She was German and loved sweet and sour red cabbage. Wow…that cuts through all the heavy food and tastes SO good! But no one else in the family will eat it and now I can’t find it in stores. Oh well.

    • I have several German friends who love sweet and sour red cabbage. Have you visited Gerlinde’s Sunny Cove blog – ? She would probably be able to tell you how to find it/make it. She’s an exceptional cook who grew up in Germany and lives in CA now.
      I have never roasted a turnip – it’s on my to-do list sometime the next week or so. 🙂

  7. Ha ha. I don’t like turnips mashed. I cube them to cook and in another pot cubed carrots. When done, I mix them together and add butter and a touch of nutmeg.
    Wish you luck next Thanksgiving. I have to laugh. Pay-back time. Can’t wait to hear about it then. 😀

  8. Turnips are Steckrüben in German and I hated them as a child. They were used in soups by the poor and hungry people during bad times. I remember the smell when my mother made them. Okay Pam, I will make some mashed turnips and see if I like them.
    I love reading your posts, they always lift me up and make me smile.

    • I love making you smile. I just referred Esther Miller (who commented in my post here) to your blog; she’s searching for sweet and sour red cabbage. Bet you can tell her how to do that.
      Let me know if you try the mashed turnips. The secret is to boil them soft, then mash with orange juice (instead of milk), some butter, salt and pepper. And of course, if you put a dollop (or more) of gravy on top, it’s even better.

  9. Next time, just say that you are bringing a “veggie dish”. Perhaps then cynics would them….and discover that they actually like them!
    Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving, Pam!

  10. What is Thanksgiving without the family traditions!!! I’m not a fan of turnips but I wouldn’t mind seeing them at the table. As for ice cream dessert…that’s out of the question. Apple pie or pumpkin pie has to be served!!!(with whipped cream on top of the pumpkin and vanilla ice cream on the apple pie)

  11. I love turnips—even eat them raw. But the rest of my family passes on them. They don’t know what they’re missing. It must be a grandmother thing, I remember my grandmother serving them too.

    • I’ve never considered eating turnips raw, Mary, but you’re not the first commenter of this post who has mentioned that they do. I’ll try it – plenty of salt sprinkled on, I imagine. When you look at the health benefits, I’m surprised more don’t add raw turnips when they serve appetizers!

  12. One year I didn’t have enough turnips to mash so I took my two turnips, added a yam and two carrots, mashed them up, added butter and a touch of nutmeg and cinnamon. It was a hit and the nay-sayers against turnips didn’t believe they actually ate some! LOL! Love this post and hope you had a really great Thanksgiving. . . 🙂

    • I’m going to try your ‘surprise’ dish at our next holiday gathering. I think it sounds really good. Yes, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and my zucchini casserole was a hit. Except for me — I want my fresh zucchini in the summer, and my turnips in the fall/winter! :-0

    • Laughing about your perfect word for turducken. A student in my writing class admitted that she makes turducken herself, boning each bird and making three different stuffings to place in between the combined concoction. I couldn’t NOT say anything. Hope she comes back to class! But I suppose some people think that turnips are obscene. Sigh.

  13. I’ve never eaten turnips either, but I may have to give them a try. And I have to admire your family’s resourcefulness in making sure no turnips reached the table this Thanksgiving. Although personally, I would have rather tried the mashed turnips instead of the turducken! A funny and heartwarming post, thanks.

    • Ann, I encourage you to try turnips – REALLY! I mean, look at all those health benefits. Of course, when I give that card of benefits to my family, I think it will give them more reasons to think turnips are not for them. 🙂

  14. I love this post. So cute and funny. I grew up eating my parents farm raised turnips. I cook then with onion and potatoes for a very fulfilling dish. They are wonderful.

    If I’m lucky I get some seed planted in early Fall and have my very own turnip greens and some small turnips to cook. I don’t have any this year. Drats but, I can go to the grocery store for some. 🙂

    is food too.

  15. wow! you brought good memories of that delectable dish!!! I will buy some soon
    and mash them up with loads of butter! thx for the old-time reminder!
    you should’ve made a bowl for yourself!!! :))))))) pat

    • You know what, Pat? I SHOULD HAVE!!! But we have another winter holiday meal coming up – Christmas. And guess what I’m gonna serve????!!!! 🙂 Let me know how your turnip dish turns out. xoxox

    • I just ordered the book (from US Amazon) – how perfect! It will be on the holiday-laden table this Christmas – with a mashed turnip casserole next to it. Tee hee. And who knew that Tolstoy loved turnips?? ❤

      • LOL – see! You’re in very fine company my friend! Oh I love the idea of a ‘book course’ on the dinner table…we need a break in between all that food right? So a bit of light reading in between starter and main, and then between main and desert – perfect! Hugs, H xxx

  16. We had lots of turnips growing up and we actually made turnip lanterns for Halloween, before pumpkins became available over here (very hard to carve!). But we enjoy our turnips mashed with carrots – this is quite popular in the UK, you can even buy turnip and carrot mash ready made to heat up.

    • I can’t think of one logical explanation that you haven’t had turnips for a long time. Unless it was upon doctor’s orders. Ha Ha. But after seeing all of these benefits, doctors should be encouraging EVERYONE to eat more turnips!! 🙂

  17. Ahh, Pam…your posts always leave me giggling and this one is no exception. I can just imagine that text hour of silence after your suggestion and then everyone jumping on the bandwagon of the mysterious anti-turnip disease. I think it sounds interesting and I’m a great fan of mash and swede, just delicious. What a great idea with the card about the turnip’s benefits – who knew and it will be great conversation piece! Must say though I’m also tempted by your zucchini casserole – yummy! Hope you all had a wonderful time of celebrations. Warmest wishes to you.

    • I used to have loads of zucchini recipes, but I must admit, these days I just google “zucchini casserole” and find lots of varieties. For this meal, I combined zucchini and squash cubes and some fresh tomato and tomato sauce, mozzarella and cheddar cheese, and some spices. Everyone seem to enjoy it a lot…or perhaps maybe they were just happy I didn’t bring my turnip dish. :-0 Cheers!

  18. I love this post, Pam, having turnips as the main topic! Recently, we joined an organic food coop, so every 2 weeks, we get a delivery of organic vegetables. The first batch had a lot of turnips, carrots, and potatoes, plus leeks and squash, so we cut them all up, drizzled olive oil over it all in a large casserole dish, added a little salt and pepper, and baked them. Delicious! I think I will try turnips again, now knowing their health benefits. Thank you!

    • True, who ever guessed ‘TURNIPS’ would be a subject for blogging? And yet, I seemed to have hit a revelation here – people seem to either love ’em or hate ’em. Your organic food coop sounds fabulous – just the idea for ‘eating local’ and healthy. Yum.

  19. I might have to try turnips again – I had no idea they did all that! Maybe it’s the way they were cooked, but for some reason the last few times I tried them, they seemed to taste like earwax. I’m glad you had a fun Thanksgiving (with or without the earwax)!

    • I promise my turnips did not taste like earwax! I just tried someone’s suggestion and roasted them. Peeled and cut them up into a medium sized cubes. Tossed them in olive oil with a little nutmeg and salt.Placed on a flat roasting pan in the oven at 425 for about 25 minutes. Yum Yum Yum. Try-you’re like it! 😀

  20. Late to the turnip patch but happy to say my son makes a delicious “root vegetables casserole” that is buttery, creamy and chunky! He uses all the underground veggies, carrots, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes and turnips. Occasionally he throws in rutabagas! 😉
    A butter, flour and cream sauce is what makes this yummy, Pam!
    We all eat his concoction since he is the chef at a simple restaurant and cooks for every party as well as comes home from work and cooks for his wife and kids. 🙂

  21. OK, it is Christmas Eve and I am just now reading your Thanksgiving post about turnips. I would never eat them in any form as a child but then I didn’t like sweet potatoes either and now I boil and mash them with a little butter. Husband loves them. Now I will have to try mashed turnips and put some in my winter soups. Yes, who know turnips would get so many comments? It must be your creative writing! Cheers!

    • Well, it’s a month after Christmas and I just saw your TURNIP comment. Ha ha. No, I never expected so many people to have ‘turnip’ stories – seems like people either love ’em or hate ’em. Hoping you love ’em in those stews of yours, as well as mashed. A great winter treat. xo

  22. I have always said if I could only pick one vegetable for Thanksgiving dinner (after potatoes of course), it would be turnip. And it is so good to find someone who agrees with me! I hope you have the courage to take a Dutch oven full of mashed turnip this year. And I hope those who say they will never try them will open their minds and mouths long enough to take a taste of our favorite delicacy. To think of zucchini as a substitute breaks my heart. That gross little squash is best served in bread. 😉

    • Smiling. Laughing now. A Dutch oven full of mashed turnips – ohhhh boy, you’ve got my brain a’stirring now.
      I bake zucchini bread in the summer (from my daughter’s garden). Highly respectable. But a zucchini does NOT belong on the Thanksgiving table! 🙂

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