Ode to Rutabagas – What to do With These Under-Appreciated Roots?

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I was at the farmers market a few weekends ago, filling my basket with some beautiful winter roots and greens, when a fellow shopper commented on his bad childhood memory of eating mushy, waterlogged, mashed rutabagas. It wasn’t a great memory – and I really couldn’t blame him from steering clear of rutabagas as soon as he was possibly able!

But, of course, I also couldn’t resist making a video devoted to these amazingly versatile and nutritious roots that are really quite delicious when you know how to cook them.

And so here goes – my ode to rutabagas!

Rutabagas look a bit like turnips, with a purplish top, but they differ in the color below the top – turnips are white and rutabagas have a creamier-colored flesh.

Botanically, rutabagas are a cross between a turnip and a wild cabbage. They range in size from small to the size of a softball and are sometimes covered in a protective wax to keep them from drying out. If I buy rutabagas in the supermarket, I look for smaller ones, as they seem to be a little sweeter and are often not coated in wax (which may indicate they are also fresher). However, my favorite place to buy rutabagas in the winter is at the Prescott Farmers Market, where I know they are fresh and wonderfully sweet.

Rutabagas are really versatile, and can almost always serve as a nutritious stand-in for potatoes. When compared to potatoes, rutabagas provide half the calories, half the carbohydrate, and 4 times the fiber. They also contain much more vitamin C, magnesium, calcium and B vitamins.

Rutabagas store well and will keep fresh for many weeks in the refrigerator if you place them in a loose plastic bag.

So what to do with these under-appreciated roots? I especially like roasting rutabagas with other root veggies, like carrots or sweet potatoes. Like all the other root vegetables, rutabagas take on a wonderfully sweet, caramelized flavor when they are slow-roasted in the oven. You can eat roasted vegetables as a side dish, tossed in a winter salad or added to a soup. Check out our Roasted Root Soup video to see how to roast rutabagas along with carrots, parsnips, and another unusual winter vegetable, celery root.

You can also sauté rutabagas, just as you would potatoes, to make some healthy hash browns. And, this goes out to that traumatized fellow at the Farmers Market; you CAN make a really delicious rutabaga mash. Just click on the link below for the complete recipe.

There are lots of other ways to prepare rutabagas – in a gratin, or in a pie, in slow-cooked stew and even oven-baked fries! Make sure you check out the links for these and other rutabaga recipe ideas. There’s also a link for tips on roasting garlic. Just click on the ones that most appeal to you.

We’ll see you soon!

Click here to watch Ode to Rutabagas on YouTube.

Download the Root Nutrition and Storage.pdf: root-nutrition-amp-storage.pdf
Download the Rutabaga and Red-Skinned Potato Mash Recipe: rutabaga-and-red-skinned-potato-mash.pdf
Download the Rutabaga Hash Browns with Mushrooms, Celery and Onions Recipe: rutabaga-hash-browns-with-mushrooms-celery-and-onions.pdf
Also see: Tips for Roasting Garlic & More Rutabaga Recipes.