Rutabagas can be an intimidating root vegetable due to their ugly looks and unfamiliarity. However, they should sit proudly in your kitchen’s root cellar right next to the more popular roots, like sweet potatoes and carrots. And here’s why.
Rutabagas are a cross between the turnip and the cabbage. While similar to a turnip, rutabagas are harvested at a larger size and have more of a yellowish flesh and darker, purplish-brown skin. When cooked, rutabagas are sweet and savory, a delicious combination aside a warm comforting entrée. Although the peel of a rutabaga appears tough, it’s actually quite easy to peel. A sharp vegetable peeler will easily strip the skin. Most rutabagas are waxed before sale, allowing them to keep for months after purchase. It’s best to store them in a cool dark place, such as a cold root cellar or refrigerator.
The rutabaga is an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium. It’s also a good source of fiber, thiamin, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A and manganese. The state of Michigan knows rutabagas best as an integral ingredient in a pasty, which is a type of meat pie. Chop rutabagas into a delicious stew or puree into a creamy soup. Heat cubed rutabaga in boiling water 20-35 minutes or in the microwave with two tablespoons of water for four to six minutes. Then, mash with a bit of milk, sour cream and seasonings for a strong competitor to the ever-popular mashed potatoes. Rutabagas can be combined with other root vegetables and roasted in an oven to ward off any tangy flavor. The same works for mashed rutabagas by using half potatoes and half rutabagas.
Convinced yet? Try this roasted root vegetable recipe, and in due time you’ll be scooping rutabagas onto your plate year after year!
Roasted Root Vegetables
4 medium root vegetables (use a variety of potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, beets, sweet potatoes, etc.)
3 tablespoons olive or canola oil
3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Trim/peel vegetables as needed. Cut into 1-inch cubes. Place vegetables in a large bowl; stir in oil and cheese. Spread evenly onto baking sheets. Bake for 1 hour or until tender, stirring every 15-20 minutes.
Yield: 6 servings
Nutrition facts (per serving): 170 calories, 8 grams fat, 80 milligrams sodium, 23 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 3 grams protein