Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What is a rutabaga and what do you do with it?

The farmers of Jubilee farm are on vacation this month, and as a result I am going through all the veggies from my CSA that I have been putting off using. My house is stuffed with winter squashes, cabbage, and rutabaga because I either cannot think of another creative use for it, or in the case of the rutabaga, I didn't know what it was. Last week I adopted my adventurous persona, and googled "rutabaga". This is what I found out, and what I did with it. Warning: the results were delicious.

What is a rutabaga? Rutabaga is a mostly forgotten root vegetable, that is a member of the brassica family (other members include mustard, cabbage, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, turnip, and kohlrabi, among many, many others). In Europe it is often called a Swedish or yellow turnip, as it is particularly popular in Scandinavian countries. While technically rutabaga is a cross between a cabbage and a turnip, it's root tastes more like a cross between a turnip and a broccoli stem. It has a crunchy texture and an exciting sharp taste when raw, but roasts beautifully and mellows out, like a potato or turnip.

What do you do with it?
Rutabaga can easily be added to roasts, purees, and mashes, just like turnips and parsnips. It can also be eaten raw like celeriac. While I have not tried it yet, I imagine it would taste divine if grated or julienned into various salads, especially cole slaws. Below is a recipe for my new favorite dish: roasted root vegetable hash with poached eggs and parsley pesto. Recipe courtesy of

  • 2 cups (packed) fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 5 tablespoons Olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups 1/2-inch dice peeled Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 pound)
  • 2 1/2 cups 1/2-inch dice peeled parsnips
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch dice peeled rutabagas
  • 1 1/2 cups 1/2-inch dice peeled carrots
  • 1 large yellow onion diced to 1/2 inch
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons light vinegar, such as white wine or apple cider

For pesto:
Blend all ingredients in processor until almost smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

For hash:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss root vegetables with olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme; spread in single layer over 2 rimmed baking sheets. Roast vegetables until tender, stirring and turning occasionally, about 45 minutes. Stir in garlic; roast 5 minutes longer. Mix in green onions. Fill large skillet halfway with generously salted water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar; bring to boil. Reduce heat to maintain steady simmer. Crack eggs, 1 at a time, and gently slide eggs into simmering water. Poach eggs until softly set, about 3 minutes.

Divide hash among 4 plates. Using slotted spoon, top each serving with 2 poached eggs. Drizzle with pesto. An alternative to the parsely pesto is to top with Tabasco, Tapatio, or your favorite hot sauce. You can also add sausage to the hash to make it more appealing to all the meat lovers out there.

1 comment:

  1. Hi!

    Thanks for your posts. I am glad someone outside Scandinavia is interested in rutabaga. In Finland, where I live, and also the neighboring countries Sweden and Russia, we use it a lot. It is one of the cheapest root vegetables, withstands storing for a substantial time in good conditions, and is also tasty. We eat it as a type of coleslaw, simply grated and raw. Also, we dice it and let it simmer in butter for a good while, or bake the dice in tin foil in a dying camping fire. We boil it in chunks to make pure either combined with only butter, cream, salt, white pepper or together with other root veggies like potato, carrot, sweet potato and so on to substitute for mashed potatoes. At Xmas, we add golden syrup or molasses to add sweetness, a small amount of nutmeg into the "mashed rutabaga" made with cream, pour it in a oven-safe pan and place it in the oven for an hour or more. The purple ones are the sweetest ones, green ones are as tasty, but slightly less sweet. Just remember to peel all of the hard skin off. When peeling, you will see a slight change in color: the skin is lighter when the edible part is "darker" yellow. It will be ca. 1/5 of an inch or so. Happy cooking!