Saffron Turnip and Sweet Potato Au Gratin

Posted by

Canon SD 750 R.I.P.

The night was New Year’s Eve. I was embarking on another–quite typical, I’m ashamed to admit–overzealous cooking spree. Four vegan dishes and my first ice cream in 2 1/2 hours, plus cleaning up, and showering. I could do this. I had done this before. It’s all about planning, mise en place, and a few prayers. I was flowing–the food was cooperating (for the most part) and my first ice cream batter was so tasty, I delved in tablespoon first before it could even harden. “2012 is going to be a great year!”, I thought to myself. And then it happened: the black screen of death. My camera screen was completely black and the pictures it took just as coal-colored. The inevitable had happened. My camera had died.

So, I dedicate this post to my point and shoot Canon SD 750. I first bought the camera as a gift to myself preceding my trip to Paris, never ever imagining that just a few years later I’d be writing for my own food blog. That camera began the Como Water journey with me and if you’ve looked at any of my early posts, or if you’ve been following me for awhile, you’ll know that my Canon SD 750 and I evolved together, grew together, and shaped Como Water together. Although I was thoroughly annoyed ๐Ÿ˜‰ that it decided to die in the middle of my NYE dinner (which contained the remaining veggie month posts!), my iPhone was a fine enough back up. To you… I apologize in advance for smartphone quality pictures for the next week or so until I am able to get a new camera.

Speaking of… do YOU have any suggestions for what new camera I should buy???

And now, enough mourning… onto this vegan au gratin, which is the culmination of yet another one of my daydreams. I wondered… how can I capture the silkiness of a traditional au gratin, while making the dish vegan, amping up the nutritional value (no offense to white potatoes!), and using some of the lovely saffron my sister bought me for Christmas? The result was this version of an au gratin and I couldn’t have been happier with it. The only thing I would change next time is that I would par boil the turnip and sweet potato before baking to cut down on the baking time. If you have the time though, you can keep the recipe as is.

Enjoy! And Happy Thursday folks! ๐Ÿ™‚

Saffron Turnip and Sweet Potato Au Gratin

(Printable Recipe)


1 large sweet potato–sliced thinly (max 1/8 inch)

1 large turnip–sliced thinly (max 1/8 inch)

1/2 green bell pepper–diced

1/2 yellow onion–diced

1 clove garlic–minced

1/4 to 1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon Earth Balance (or margarine/butter)

1 tablespoon flour

1 cup almond milk (plain, unsweetened)

1/3 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup vegetable broth

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt (I use Goya Adobo)

1/8 teaspoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon saffron (approx.)

1/4 teaspoon tumeric

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/8 teaspoon cumin

olive oil



parsley (garnish)


*Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Wash and dry potato and turnip. Peel turnip. Slice potato and turnip thinly (max. 1/8 inch). Keep in a large bowl of cold water while preparing other components of the dish.

*Dice onion and bell pepper. Mince garlic. Saute onion and pepper in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil until they are barely soft. Add garlic and sautรฉ until all three veggies are completely soft. Set aside.

*Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and the Earth Balance to medium-sized pot over medium heat. Melt the Earth Balance. Add flour. Stir to combine and cook for approx. 1 minute. Whisk in broth and milks. Stir until roux is completely dissolved into the liquid. Add all seasonings (except parsley). Note: crush saffron threads in your fingers before adding. Stir and reduce heat to medium low. Add nutritional yeast and onion mixture; stir until all ingredients are completely combined.

*Remove turnip and sweet potato slices from water. Dry on paper towel and layer in greased baking dish, leaving at least 1/2 inch at the top of the baking dish. Pour sauce over turnip and sweet potato slices. Bake covered with foil for 45-50 minutes. Remove foil. Bake uncovered 15 minutes or until top in bubbly and golden brown. Serve with fresh herbs.

Written by

Tiffany M. Griffin is the woman behind Como Water, Washington DCโ€™s premiere veg-centric cuisine consulting company. Through cooking classes, demonstrations, catering, and consultations, Como Water gives people the opportunity to learn how to prepare veg-centric cuisine that boasts maximum flavor, with minimal effort. Tiffany is quickly becoming a go-to expert on the future of veg-centric cuisine, and is a regular contributor to Como Water, the blog, as well as to vegetarian and vegan sites across the Internet. For over a decade, this self-taught, entrepreneurial expert has developed a set of tried and true techniques for making simple, delicious, and sometimes decadent veg-centric dishes. Featured on the Steve Harvey Show and other leading media outlets, Tiffany was born and raised in Springfield, MA. She then earned Bachelors degrees in Psychology and Communications from Boston College and a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan. She now resides in Washington DC, where she has worked in the US Senate and at a federal agency on issues around health, food, nutrition, and international food aid/development, and of course, as the owner of Como Water. Tiffany gets culinary inspiration from the food she grew up eating, and from her travels throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, Western Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa. She is dedicated to sharing her wealth of knowledge on veg-centric cuisine with others and to help others live by her mantraโ€”love life, live long, and eat veg-centric cuisine!


  1. Beautiful dish!!!

  2. I know nothing about cameras–I’ve been using a little point-and-shoot this whole time. However, the dish looks amazing–colorful and savory! You were feeling adventurous on NYE with all that food!

  3. A moment of silence for the SD 750, and lets pour out a little for those who aren’t with us anymore. You, dear Tiff are on a roll! One spectacular dish after another. I looked at my jar of saffron and thought of your shortbread. Now you’ve given me another lovely to try. Thankum!

  4. The au gratin looks good. I was thinking the turnip slices are so thin I think they would make an interesting photo letting the light shine through them.
    I have been shopping new cameras. This past weekend I go the chance to spend Saturday with one of Duke’s photographers taking pictures of Duke Chapel. All of the Duke photographers use Canon cameras. If you want to know their recommendations let me know, of course they only recommended digital SLR cameras. If you want another point and shoot I won’t be much help.

  5. Sorry the New Year started out with your camera dying on you. On the other hand, this dish looks amazing, iPhone photo and all. I recently had a camera death in my family and replaced it with a Nikon D3100 that I got at Costco. I’m still learning to use it, and working on improving my pictures. Regardless, I’ve been impressed with it thus far. Good luck with the camera shopping, and if this year is anything like your last, I can’t wait to see what else you’ve got to share!

  6. Oh no, I am so sorry about your camera! I wish I even had an SLR, though ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Your gratin sounds amazing – I love turnips and never made gratin with them. I’ll need to remedy that immediately. There is something about nutritional yeast that makes me prefer it over cheese in gratins, even though I am an absolute omnivore.

  7. Turnips and saffron are two things I have been wanting desperately to play with but I never have. I am so sorry about your camera, I know if that happened to me there would be tears involved. ๐Ÿ™ You really did outstanding with this au gratin!

  8. I (clearly) know nothing about photography, but good lucky choosing a new one. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Love, love this gratin. I’m really impressed that you vegan-ized au gratin. Cant wait to try it out!

  9. Looks like there’s a lot of Indian touch into this recipe and these are some of it I too use for my cooking, in fact very often. Thanks for giving the option for earth balance because I have not heard of this ingredient. At least I know now that butter or margarine can be a substitute to earth balance. Nice and lovely thick yummy for me, I will call it a thick curry. On the cameras, there’s so many out there and just get one which is within your budget and of course the more you pay, the more functions the camera has. I use a Canon DSLR for my food pictures and have a small portable one which I carry when out taking shots. Definitely the DSLR gives sharper and more contrast in color pictures.

    • If you are trying to keep the dish vegan, you can use a vegan margarine or some type of oil (i.e., olive oil) instead of Earth Balance. If you do not care about the dish being vegan, you can use good old fashioned butter! ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. Tiffany, my heart goes out to you on your loss of a camera. That’s one of my big fears when I have a big cooking day. I just bought a small cheap back up camera just for that reason. I don’t have a fancy camera to shoot right now and am actively looking to buy a DSLR soon. I would be interested in what opinions people give you too. ๐Ÿ™‚ Your au-gratin looks amazing!! Really mouthwatering and delightful. I hope you New Year’s party was a blast!! Well done! Have a great weekend. ~ Ramona

  11. Oh my-I would be in a panic if my camera up and decided to quit! It is not like something you can just run out and replace, they do cost some $$. Here’s hoping for a long life on the new one that you get!
    This recipe is one of those where I would have to put in front of my husband and not reveal the ingredients. It looks delicious enough so that the sweet potato would be overlooked-my hubs hates them. However, his dislike of things has never stopped me before. Enjoy the weekend Tiffany!

  12. Wow, this is very creative and looks tasty, good job on the vegan au gratin.

  13. Oh such a bummer about your camera! But maybe you’ll find a new “friend” soon!

    This au gratin looks amazing and I’m sure the flavor was even better =)

  14. RIP, camera. You were swell. My camera was just discontinued so I’m pretty much no help on that one. But I do want to say that looks gorgeous and I love that you used a turnip! I’m all about turnips right now.

  15. I am SO sorry about your camera. What a frustrating time for it to give up the ghost. I am a little envious, though, that you get to go out and buy a new one.

    Your gratin looks yummy. I am feeling my way toward liking things like sweet potatoes. I hated them as a child and really want to get over it. Lately, I have been buying them and putting them into things in small amounts. It seems to be working.

  16. Oh RIP poor camera. It had a good life, always faced with interesting dishes from Chez Tiffany.

    Turnip has a new friend in sweet potato. Love this gratin. No advice to offer for the new camera except that two professional photographers I know say ‘Keep it Canon’

  17. Oh no! How disappointing about your camera! I cant imagine how sad that must have been!!! RIP poor camera.
    This gratin looks amazing. So yummy!

  18. Oh, what a shame about your camera! You managed some amazing shots with your smart phone…I’m impressed! What a gorgeous gratin….so many wonderful flavors! Hope you’re enjoying your weekend ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. So sorry about your camera, I know the feeling when you were perfectly happy with some device and it decides to force you to upgrade!

    I recently had a wonderful gratin of potatoes, turnip and Comte cheese, and your recipe reminded me of it – saffron, sweet potatoes and turnip sound very intriguing, it must be lovely! Something more added to my list ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Now that I have taken some photography lessons I love my Canon 7D! THis dish looks yummy, I never knew turnips could be so good in gratins. I just had one the other day I love the flavor it infuses in the dish.

  21. I think that you are more than ready for a Big Girl camera. I think it’s time to say a quick prayer from your P&S and move up to a DSLR. Seriously, being able to regularly get your fabulous food featured on Foodporn sites will double your traffic, well worth the time, effort, and expense.

  22. I am so sorry about your camera. I don’t know much about Canons but I know people usually stick with the same brands.
    Your gratin is just loaded with goodies, this would keep me warm and happy all winter!

  23. Cameras in the kitchen, seems like a disaster waiting to happen for me; my Sony Cybershot always wants to slip out of my hands and into the food. Your ol’ Canon did you well!

  24. Oh no, so sorry to hear your camera decided to give up all the sudden! I had two cameras like that – and now each kid can use REAL camera (that’s broken). I use a Canon DSLR for my food pictures and kids pictures. We thought it’s worth the investment to take precious moments with the kids (and I got to take food pics). I love your potato-au-gratin! It’s one of my favorite dish, and addition of saffron and turnip is something new – I absolutely loved it!

  25. Thanks for the comments… and advice everyone! ๐Ÿ˜€

  26. You’ve just made me so hungry! I love this!

  27. I take all my pictures with a Canon powershot s5i5. I’m by no means an expert, but the features are really easy to use and get the hang of even for a novice like me. I’ve been really happy with it, especially for the price.

  28. Tiffany, loving your gratin – especially as with Burns Night this week, turnips and potatoes are so in but this is a great idea with the sweet potatoes, too. Great news about the camera, as it’s great to be able to move on with an excuse! I wish I could give advice but I use a Canon Powershot G10 which is great if you’re static and in daylight but at night and if you move it’s not up to much. Have fun in picking one out!