Root for Rutabaga

When the humble rutabaga shows up in your CSA box it presents a challenge. It’s not a top-ten food blogger veggie. You don’t see it on a lot of menus. It looks weird. It has a bit of an undeserved reputation for being a “famine food.”

All of that’s unfortunate because it deserves a place of honor right next to the rest of the celebrated starches like Russet and sweet potatoes.

Rutabaga is in the Brassica family along with turnips and cabbage. It does have some of that bitter turnip flavor. Raw rutabaga is milder than turnips and has baby-carrot sweetness. It’s crisp and juicy, with a little bit of bitter edge.

To get the most out of this tasty veggie, cook it. When you do, it gets a mellower, golden appearance than turnips or potatoes. It’s sweet yet savory, kind of like a less starchy golden potato. In fact, you can do almost anything you want to rutabagas you can do with potatoes. For a simple, but interesting dish, use your favorite mashed potatoes recipe, but with rutabagas. This is a great dish for potlucks where you don’t want to get too crazy, but you want something kind of interesting to bring.

Rutabaga is practically a superfood (but without the super price). They’re loaded with vitamin C and potassium, which just happens to make them excellent for stews in the last few months of winter. They’re also renowned for aiding in digestion thanks to their high fiber count.