I don’t know about you, but I knew the word rutabaga long before I knew what, precisely, a rutabaga was! Rutabaga is fun to say, even if it is one of those vegetables, like turnips and Brussels sprouts, that ends up pushed to the side of the plate by children who don’t recognize it. And what a shame! Outside of the U.S., rutabaga is used in many cuisines, roasted or in soups and stews. As the end of winter draws nearer, you may be tiring of turnips and potatoes, so throw a rutabaga in the mix.
The rutabaga is known by many names: the swede, turnip and yellow turnip are all the same thing, a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. Yellow in color and nearly golden when cooked, rutabagas have been gracing the plates of our neighbors in Europe for years. Use them with other winter vegetables — try half-and-half with mashed sweet potatoes or toss cubes in with a roasted winter veggie medley. Or try some of these simple recipes from across the Atlantic!
Sweden and Norway
Sweden gives the rutabaga one of its many names — the swede — because of the Nordic fondness for this vegetable. In Sweden and Norway, rutabagas are cooked with potatoes and carrots and then mashed with butter and cream. Rotmos, then, is like a jazzed up version of mashed potatoes, with all of the added health benefits of rutabagas and carrots. This side accompanies any roast well, but traditionally, it is served with cured and boiled ham hock and mustard.
This Scandinavian neighbor of Sweden and Norway uses rutabagas in many ways; the rutabaga is one of the principal root vegetables used in this country, and is therefore featured with other roasted winter veggies or in soups and stews. Perhaps the most popular Finnish rutabaga dish is Swede casserole, or lanttulaatikko, a traditional Christmas dish.
Scotland and England
Scotland may not be famous for its food, but there is one dish — haggis, neeps and tatties — that has gained it some reknown. Take or leave the haggis itself — it’s an acquired taste for sure — but be sure to sample the neeps (mashed rutabaga) and tatties (mashed potatoes). As in England, the root vegetables are mashed with butter and ground pepper to create a savory side for Sunday roasts.
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