Harvest Festival: Turnip Broccoli Au Gratin and Red Russian Borscht (gluten free, vegan)

Happy autumnal equinox!

Bring on the comfort food!

Seriously, I feel my body craving foods differently now than back in the height of summer. My body is sensing the change in season, and is yearning for foods of fall's harvest. This means it is time for soup. For roots. For warm cooked things (sorry raw foodies, I like my food cooked once the temperature starts dropping). I've been obsessing over beets and turnips and squashes and apples. So, today I went crazy for fall-time cooking. After eating some of the delightful homemade borscht featured below for lunch, I came home from work and made this amazing Turnip Broccoli Gratin, some fennel-spiked fava bean and rice soup for lunch tomorrow and leftovers, and took my first stab a carob beetroot cake (seriously).

I've been doing all sorts of harvesty things, like going to the apple orchard, hitting up the farmer's market to make huge batches of soup and sauces, admiring fall colors driving through the country, and harvesting the last of the herbs and squashes from my garden. My arugula is still going strong, I still have a couple squashes on the vine, and most of my beets are still firmly planted, but my herbs have waned, my zucchini is (finally) slowing, and even my chard and kale seems to be slowing down. It's true, fall is upon us.

So, in celebration of the change of season, here's a little harvest festival for you, two of my most recent recipes perfectly suited for the final trips to the farmer's market. A lovely Turnip Broccoli Au Gratin, creamy and rich and totally dairy free, and a nourishing Red Russian Borscht, full of beety goodness (and more turnips...).



yield: 1 7"x11" pan

Like potatoes au gratin, but WAY better because it uses the humble turnip, one of my favorite vegetables. There's a reason why a turnip graces the top of my blog - I truly adore them! Especially au gratin style, with broccoli, onions, and rich, creamy Béchamel sauce. Béchamel sauce is an awesome thing to have in your cooking toolbox. It can be made in a flash, and works really well with GF flours to make amazing gravies and creamy sauces for vegetables, meats, and grains.

To top the whole thing off, I sprinkled it with GF bread crumbs. Feel free to sprinkle with any other crumbly tasty stuff you'd like, like nut flour, potato/tapioca chips, crumbled cracker crumbs, or french fried onions. Or, leave it nude and eat without a crunchy, crumbly topping - it will still be wonderful!

1 head broccoli, cut into florets
6-8 mediumish turnips, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
1 medium onion, thinly sliced in half-moons
2 cups Béchamel sauce (recipe below)
1/2 c gluten free bread/cracker crumbs
Herbamare/salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400* F.  Wash and prepare vegetables, saving broccoli stems for later use, and set aside.
Prepare Béchamel sauce per directions below.

Spread a thin layer of sauce on bottom of 7"x11" glass pan.  Place turnips in pan in long rows, layering each turnip slightly over the other, until pan is full. Tuck broccoli florets between rows and around the edges of pan. Finally, evenly spread thinly sliced onions over entire pan.  Cover with tin foil, and bake for 20-30 minutes. Then remove foil, sprinkle on bread crumbs, salt, and pepper, and place bake in oven to bake until golden and bubbling, approximately 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool 10-20 minutes before serving.


1/4 c + 2 Tbsp millet or brown rice flour
3 T olive oil
3 c water
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/2-1 tsp Herbamare
white or black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp garbanzo bean miso (or soy, if tolerated)

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. In a small bowl, mix flour, garlic powder, and ground mustard, then sprinkle over oil. Stir to mix evenly, and toast flour until it smells nutty.
Add water in steady stream, whisking constantly to avoid clumping. Bring heat up to medium high, and bring to a scald while stirring constantly. Then reduce heat to low and let simmer briefly until thickened.
Remove a small amount of the sauce and mix with miso paste, then add back into pot, with additional salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.


yields plenty.

In keeping with my beet theme of late, here's another beet recipe. Seriously, I can't get beets off my mind, I'm using them constantly right now. I made that beet sauce last week, ate roasted beets all weekend, threw a beet in my smoothie this morning, and am obsessing with the idea of beetroot baked goods (like I said, tonight I made beet carob cake).

In regards to soup, I've always been a sucker for borscht. Borscht is a classic Eastern European soup, pure peasant food at its best, made mostly of beets and with a variety of other vegetables thrown in, depending on the variety and version. I've made various versions of borscht through time, but this one is a winner. I started with a recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook, omitting some things, adding others, and throwing in my own twists, and coming up with something new and wonderful. Sweet and tangy, and bursting with rich flavor, this soup features the best of late summer vegetables. And better yet, it is a striking ruby red, dotted with bits of orange, green, and purple. Truly satisfying to the eyes and the belly.

I made a batch of this soup a few weeks ago, and ate greedily off the pot for a couple days. Then I froze the rest for later. "Later" came today - when I looked outside this morning, and saw the clouds and cool weather, a bowl of borscht seemed like the natural choice. What better way to usher in the autumnal equinox than a bowl of soup? Perhaps my current obsession with beets is my body's natural connection to the change of seasons, an unconscious drive to take part in the bounty of fall's harvest. So, I grabbed a pouch of soup from the freezer, a bit of leftover shredded beef from my fridge, and headed off to work. When the lunch hour came, beef and soup went in the bowl, and a smile crossed my face. The flavors and aroma were divine - chunky vegetables in a sea of fragrant broth, a little sweet, a little sour, and brimming with hints of caraway and dill. Perfect.

3 medium beets, peeled and thinly sliced
3 medium turnips, peeled and thinly sliced (or potatoes, if you prefer)
2 small onions, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 head red cabbage, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt or Herbamare
fresh ground black or white pepper
2 Tbsp chopped celery leaves
2 Tbsp minced fresh dill
1-2 Tbsp buckwheat or other variety of honey, or another liquid sweetener (if on ACD, omit sweetener entirely or use a very tiny pinch of stevia)
1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (or 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice, or 1/2-1 tsp vitamin C crystals dissolved in water)
6-8 cups water or stock
1-2 Tbsp olive oil

optional add-ins:
1/4 c tomato paste (I did not add because I'm allergic to tomatoes, but it would be very good, and is commonly added to borscht!)
grain: cooked kasha (buckwheat groats), brown rice, millet, or quinoa
protein: shredded cooked chicken or beef, cooked white beans, strips of tempeh/tofu, etc.

dairy/non-dairy yogurt or cream, cashew cream, or other creamy something of your choosing
fresh minced dill

Prepare vegetables. In a large stockpot, heat olive oil. Add cumin seeds, caraway seeds, and ground cumin, stir to coat with oil, and heat until fragrant. Add onions, and saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add celery and carrot, and saute for 2-3 more minutes. Finally, add beets and turnips, and saute for a few more minutes. Then add cabbage.

Add water/stock, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer on medium until vegetables are almost tender. Then add celery leaves, dill, honey, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, as well as any other add ins (cooked meat/beans, cooked grains, etc). Let simmer 5 more minutes to flavor through, then remove from heat.
Serve immediately, or cool and freeze.