"Navot" or "Navet"
By Juliana L’Heureux
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Franco-American love to eat mashed “navot’ during cold winter months.
Actually, “navot” is the Acadian French word for yellow turnip. In
standard French, the yellow turnip is translated to “le navet”, but the
Franco-Americans and Acadians call it “le navot” (pronounced “navoooo”).
Sometimes the Canadian and Acadian word variations differ because they
are remnants of how the word was pronounced in Medieval France.
Whatever the French call it, Franco-Americans love eating this winter
staple after it is finely mashed with a little milk, butter, salt and pepper.
Traditionally, the vegetable is served after being hand crushed with a
potato masher to resemble coarse baby food.
Les navot became a winter staple because the family root cellar
kept the vegetable fresh throughout the cold months. Carrots, potatoes
and les navot were stored together in the cold storage bin usually located
in the family’s basement.
People who shy away from yellow vegetables are not immediately taken
with les navot because the dish is an acquired ethnic taste. Franco-Americans
find this vegetable delicious, especially when mashed with carrots. Although
many folks perceive the simple yellow turnip-carrot combination as a ho-hum
nutritious side dish loaded with fiber, Franco-Americans know them as an
utterly delectable blending.
“Les navot” is excellent when served with New England boiled dinner
because the tart flavor blends with the flavored broth. A Franco-American
New England boiled dinner is cooked with stew beef, onions, potatoes, carrots,
cabbage and “les navot”.
Yellow turnips and carrots can be served elegantly side by side
without being mashed. Still, Franco-Americans have a traditional
of whipping them like potatoes. Actually, when cooked, diced and
served alongside one another in a china bowl, the two vegetables present
a tantalizing side dish to either pot roast or pork roasts. In Quebec,
les navot is served diced in lamb stew (ragout d'agneau).
“Les navot” is served in a glass or china dish for formal occasions.
Informally, most families designate a strong family cook to take charge
of mashing the vegetable along with carrots. In our house, it takes
five minutes of mashing before serving. “Who’s mashing les navot?” is a
common request, like asking who will mash the potatoes?
When “les navot” are mashed with potatoes as well as carrots in the
same dish, the result is a three vegetable combination appealing to Franco-American
dinner guests, but others generally require an orientation to the white,
orange and yellow pureed contents before venturing a taste.
Franco-Americans enjoy the taste of les navot because of the hefty amount
of butter used in the mashing. About half a stick of butter is used during
the mashing ritual.
Les navot are not exactly easy to serve because of the hard labor
it takes to peel, cut, cook and mash the vegetable. Preparing the raw vegetable
for cooking is like trying to carve stones for dinner. Fortunately,
modern cooks find les navot already peeled and diced in the supermarket’s
fresh vegetable section. After cooking, les navot become soft and
are fairly easy to mash.
In our health conscious society, Franco-Americans should promote the
nutritious les navot and include this vegetable in all-ethnic ragout recipes
and side dishes.
Scalloped Rutabaga and Apple
One large rutabaga
One tablespoon butter
1 and ½ cup sliced apples
¼ cup brown sugar and a pinch of cinnamon
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
Cook and mash the rutabaga and add one tablespoon butter to the mixture.
Toss in apples with ¼ cup brown sugar and cinnamon.
Alternate layers of rutabaga and apples in greased casserole, end with
Mix until crumbly the flour, the 1/3 cup brown sugar and two tablespoons
Spread the sugar crumb mixture over the top of casserole.
Bake at 350 degrees F for one hour.
Muriel Poulin is the originator of this recipe, she is a retired professor
of nursing from the Boston University School of Nursing (before the nursing
school was closed down by BU administration). She is a native of Springvale,
ME, a post graduate educated nurse, a world traveler, a hospice volunteer
extra-ordinary and she speaks French.
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Maine, August 2000
Copyright 1994-2000, Juliana L'Heureux