Wednesday, March 12, 2014

'Nip 'n Cheese (Grain-free Turnip Mac 'n Cheese)

I indulged in some cheese with a turnip and I'm feeling a little guilty. I mean it's not like I cheated with my best friend's husband or anything. What am I—a skank? The cheese was organic and pasture-raised. Who knows where her husband's been. Still, it is cheese, and it comes with a large carbon footprint. But then my friend's husband wears a size 12 shoe. So I'm told.

Eating a plant-based diet comes pretty natural to me, but sometimes I just have to succumb to my baser urges. Not by going all paleo cavewoman. I’m talking cheese skank. As a flexitarian, I limit my intake of animal products, so when certain foods are an occasional treat, it doesn’t take much to drive me wild. A simple root vegetable dressed in a skimpy dairy negligee can send me over the moon. Geez, if a little cheese can do that, I wonder what some red meat would do.

Unlike my savory pickled turnips, these 'nips are exceptionally sweet. Though I went easy on the cheese and milk, even without them, the tender, layered turnips would melt in your mouth. I'd simply substitute the dairy and guilt for some virginal olive oil and change the name to something a little more chaste. I’m thinking, “Tender, Gently Laid Turnips.” It's a skankless job, but someone's gotta do it.

'Nip 'n Cheese (Grain-free Turnip Mac 'n Cheese)

2 pounds turnips (about 10 medium), sliced in thin rounds
½ medium minced shallot
1 cup grated organic Monterey Jack or Gruyere cheese (I used Jack)
1 cup low-fat organic milk (1 or 2 percent) or dairy alternative
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pinch of smoked paprika (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Olive oil to grease the pan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Clean and peel the turnips. Slice thinly into rounds. Grate cheese and mince shallot.

Generously grease a 2-quart gratin or baking dish with olive oil. Layer 1/3 of the turnips, 1/3 of the shallots, a little salt, pepper and smoked paprika (if using) and 1/3 of the milk and cheese. Repeat, making three layers. Top with cheese; sprinkle with paprika and parsley.

Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes or until golden and the milk is absorbed. A fork should easily slide in and out of the turnips when done.

Let rest about 15 minutes. Serves 4.

Lentil’s Breakdown

According to the Environmental Working Group’s Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change, 1) lamb, 2) beef, 3) cheese and 4) pork generate the most greenhouse gases. That means vegetarians who eat dairy are guilty of contributing to the third-highest emissions, pound for pound! D'oh!

The aforementioned offenders also have the most fat, creating the worst environmental impact because meat and dairy production requires large amounts of pesticides, chemical fertilizer, fuel, feed and water which generate greenhouse gases, toxic manure and other pollutants.

Grass-fed, organic and pasture-raised meat, eggs and dairy are the greenest and healthiest. Though more expensive, when you eat less of them, they're more affordable. 

If you eat meat, look for:
  • Grass fed or pasture raised
  • Lean cuts
  • No antibiotics or hormones
  • Certified organic
  • Certified humane
  • Local
  • Unprocessed, nitrite-free and low sodium
If you eat dairy, buy lower fat and organic such as:
  • Cream cheese
  • Part-skim or fresh mozzarella
  • Gouda
  • Feta
  • Muenster
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Non-fat yogurt 
It's easy to make meatless and cheeseless Mondays a part of your weekly routine. And on at least two other days, why not make meat a side dish. For more info, visit the Meatless Monday official site.

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  1. Oh my, I will never look at a turnip the same way again. I can't wait to try this dish. I will be picking up some turnips at my Farmer's market on Sunday to try this creative recipe.

  2. What a great idea, Adair! Looks wonderful, too! May I have a taste?! ;)

  3. Ooh, I love a good gratin and this one fits the bill. Yum!

  4. I was imagining the taste and salivating! I totally agree with you on the meat and their harm (to the animals and the planet); what about goat meat? I met a professor of nutrition who told me it is the only meat he recommends eating, plus in Lebanon, it is local, whereas beef is imported from far away places like Brazil or Australia

  5. Would it be tacky is I just said two word? Greeting Cards. (That's a compliment in my eBook) GREG