Week 34: The Winter Rutabaga
We are already 1 month into winter, although it has been warmer than our typical January. Storage roots are in abundance and we are getting beautiful greens from the hoop house. A brand new bunch of pullets (250 of them!) have arrived, and once they get to egg-laying the farm should be producing ~225 eggs per day. And as a little surprise, the bulk dry goods are in!! Organic lentils, organic black beans, organic pinto beans, organic brown rice, organic rolled oats, and organic chickpeas are ready to cook up and enjoy!
Most people don’t care too much for winter with its cold temperatures, shorter days, and unpredictable travel challenges. But there are some things that only come our way in winter, and you know your favorites. Maybe it’s sledding a good hill, lighting a fire in the fireplace, wearing a cozy fleece, or the release of a favorite winter beer. I’m going to go ahead and guess that you didn’t have eating rutabaga on your list. But YES, rutabaga is a winter-only root vegetable.
Rutabaga is part of the brassica family, related to cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and turnips. It is actually a cross between a turnip and a cabbage. Commonly called Swedes, it was created by Swiss botanist Gaspard Bauhin and arrived here in North America in 1806. The flesh is sweet and earthy, with a peppery flavor. Rutabaga offers cooking versatility and is delicious braised, roasted, mashed, steamed, grilled, or gratin. It is also excellent nutrition: high in carbohydrates, vitamins A and C, and some minerals, particularly calcium.
If you like potatoes, then you will love rutabaga! Try some of these delicious recipes and make sure to enjoy rutabaga as much as possible while it’s still here!!
2-3 rutabagas, peeled and thinly sliced
½ to 1 cup of cream, warmed
½ to 1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 375F. Layer rutabaga in a buttered cast iron pan, pour warmed cream over, sprinkle with Gruyere, and bake for 30 minutes.
INDIAN SPICED SHEPHERD’S PIE
2 lbs rutabagas, peeled, quartered and cut into 1-inch slices
2 lbs red potatoes, peeled or unpeeled as preferred, quartered
4 TBSP unsalted butter
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp brown or yellow mustard seeds
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb ground beef
1 tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground coriander
1.5 cups chopped celery (2 to 3 stalks)
2 cups thinly sliced cabbage (1/2 small cabbage)
1 cup chopped onion (1 onion)
1.5 cups chopped peeled carrots (3-4 carrots)
¼ cup water or stock
2 cups frozen peas
2 tsp kosher salt, or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup whole milk
¼ cup grated Parmesan
½ tsp paprika
Put the rutabaga into a pot, cover with a bit more than twice their volume in water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes, topping off with additional hot water, if necessary, to make sure that everything is covered. Cook until both roots are tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain in a large colander.
Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large, shallow ovenproof Dutch oven or skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring constantly, until the seeds pop and color, about 30 seconds. Add the beef to the pan and cook, stirring often, as the meat releases liquid and then begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the turmeric, coriander, celery, cabbage, onion, and carrots. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. Add the water, bring to a boil, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook until the vegetables are very tender, another 10-12 minutes. Add the peas, 1 tsp of the salt, and several grinds of pepper. Cook for another few minutes, stirring to defrost the frozen peas. Taste, and add more salt or pepper if necessary. Remove from the heat.
Heat the milk and 1 TBSP of the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Mash the potatoes and rutabaga in a large bowl with a potato masher, adding the hot milk mixture as you go. Add the remaining 1 tsp of salt and several grinds of pepper to the mash. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
Spread the rutabaga mixture over the stew so that it covers it entirely. Dot with the remaining 1 TBSP of butter, and then sprinkle the parmesan cheese and paprika over the top. Put the whole pot under the broiler (at a medium setting if possible), watching carefully, until puffed and golden, 10 to 13 minutes.
Notes: Serves 6 to 8. Recipe courtesy of Alana Chernila, Eating from the Ground Up.
FAVORITE WINTER ROOT MASH
1 lb rutabaga, peeled and cubed into 1-inch chunks
1 lb carrots, peeled and cubed into 1-inch chunks
Steam roots for 30-35 minutes or until thoroughly tender. Mash and serve with butter and sprinkling of black pepper.
Notes: Can scale up or down as desired. Can also do 50-50 rutabaga and potatoes.
RUTABAGA OVEN FRIES
Toss rutabaga spears in in fat (olive oil, coconut oil, or even bacon fat or beef tallow) along with salt and seasonings of your choice (like garlic powder, dried thyme, and cayenne), then roast at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.