Turnip “No Potato” Salad with Grainy Mustard, Bacon, and Pickled Red Onions

Potato salad is a staple side dish in just about any household. I’ve had many versions – salads heavy on the mayonnaise, versions with a ton of pickles and yellow mustard (like my Mom’s recipe), German-style potato salad, and I’ve even made a dill and caper salad for a Daring Cooks’ challenge. I imagine that there are as many recipes for potato salad as there are summer barbecues in the United States.

But what if you are trying to stay away from potatoes? Many people on gluten-free diets also steer clear of nightshades as well in order to keep inflammation down. Many people following a paleo diet also stay away from potatoes. In those cases, how do you satisfy that potato salad craving? If you’re like me and a) have several turnips lying around from your local box and b) are looking for a unique twist on this traditional comfort food, this might just be the answer to a “no potato/faux-tato” salad!

I’ve used turnips before as stand-ins for traditional potato dishes, like in this turnip-rutabaga mash. They’re a great budget-friendly root vegetable, and one that stands up to longer-term storage quite well. They’re tasty in pickles and are lovely roasted. But I do believe that this salad has become my new favorite way to enjoy them.

Of course, part of what makes this salad so bright and fresh (even when it’s still winter, and bright and fresh aren’t descriptors for much of our food this time of year) are the pickled red onions. Many times, I forget how a simple pickle can transform a creamy, heavier dish into something that really pops. The tart, sour taste of the pickle balances out the fat in a creamy sauce so perfectly. Such is the case with these simple pickled red onions. They’re not just good for this salad, though – I enjoyed them on top of some pork carnitas the other day, and I can imagine they’d be wonderful on a burger or to garnish a pot roast. The recipe makes plenty, so you’ll have some for enjoyment on all sorts of dishes.

But back to this salad. It’s a relatively simple mix of some of my favorites – a good, grainy mustard, homemade mayonnaise, bacon, and the red onions. You get a mouthful of creamy, salty, piquant, sweet and sour, all in one bite. Pair this with some barbecue, with roast beef, or with a good soup, and you have a delicious, simple comfort food. In fact, this is my contribution to this month’s Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free! – Comfort Foods. (It’s not too late to join us, either! Just check out how to participate here.) This salad will definitely show up at a future barbecue around these parts, as I gear up for spring and break out my smoker!


Turnip Salad with Grainy Mustard, Bacon and Pickled Red Onions (gluten-free, grain-free, paleo-friendly)

4 c diced turnips

3 slices bacon, diced

¼ c mayonnaise (I used homemade, based on this recipe)

¼ c coarse/grainy mustard

½ t freshly ground black pepper

Salt to taste

3 T diced pickled red onions (recipe below)

¼ c chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add turnips and reduce to medium-high heat. Boil until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain turnips and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet to medium heat and add bacon. Cook bacon, stirring every minute or so, until crisp. Remove and set on paper towels to drain.

In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, mustard, and black pepper. Add the turnips and bacon and toss well to combine. Add salt if needed and toss again. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, 2-3 hours.

Once chilled, add the pickled red onions and parsley and toss again. Serve.

Serves 4-6.


(This recipe makes a lot more pickled onions than are needed for this salad. Enjoy these onions on burgers, in other salads, on tacos, or as a garnish on top of rich, heavier dishes such as pot roast or chili.)

Pickled Red Onions (gluten-free, vegan)

¾ c apple cider vinegar

¼ c red wine vinegar

2 T lime juice

1 T natural cane sugar (for vegan) or honey

1 T kosher salt

1 bay leaf

½ t black peppercorns

½ t cumin seed

½ t coriander seeds

½ t whole allspice

1 large or 2 medium red onions, sliced thinly

Combine everything but the onions in a medium saucepan and whisk together. Add the onions and bring to a light boil over medium-high heat. (It’s okay if the onions aren’t covered by the liquid at first. They’ll cook down.) Reduce to low and partially cover. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft but not falling apart. Transfer the onions and liquid to a glass lidded container or a jar and allow to cool completely. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.



    • altawrites says

      Cara – I *think* they are related, yeah! Rutabagas are denser though – at least, to me! You should check them out. You can even start by just roasting them together with rutabagas, carrots, parsnips, and whatever other root veggies you find!

  1. says

    I love a grainy dijon too Alta :) It’s a staple in my fridge. And in many of my salad dressings. I would love to try this recipe! I’ve never had pickled onions! My fave is caramelized onions! Thanks for more inspiration.

    • altawrites says

      Of course I don’t mind, Shirley – if you’re making it, you’re the one eating it! 😉 You could always just throw plain red onions in there if you wanted – or omit them. :)

  2. says

    Hmmm. I have never had a turnip – my husband detests them and I think he has brainwashed me but this recipe sounds just too fantastic not to try! I will let you know the verdict :)

  3. Pat says

    Do you know where bacon comes from? Do you know that female pigs are kept in gestation crates so small they cannot turn around or move and often go mad?Have you any idea of the suffering of a sentient being endured so that you can have “bacon”? They are smart, friendly and some people have them as a pet.Switch to a plant-based cruelty-free diet. Billions of sentient crearues are killed every day, every year The world is changing. Are you ready? Ahimsa

    • altawrites says

      Pat – I appreciate your concern. I actually do know where my bacon comes from. I obtain most all of our meats, pork and otherwise, from a nearby farm that raises all of their animals free range/pastured, and are fed organic meals that are appropriate for them (no grains fed to cows, no animal by-products, no GMOs, no antibiotics). I am on a first-name basis with the farmer. I appreciate and completely respect those that follow a plant-based diet. I choose to balance what is best for my health and I also wish to consume meat in the most humane manner – by choosing only sustainably and humanely raised animals, and doing my part to respect that animal and help ensure that as little goes to waste as possible. I understand and respect your position; this is mine.


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