Rutabagas, best described to someone who has never eaten one, is a cross between a potato and carrot- flavor and texture wise, at least. They have the sweet earthiness of a carrot and the creamy/starchy versatile texture of a potato. Simply said, they’re really good for mashing. Norwegians make something called kålrabistappe, which is a traditional dish of cooked rutabagas, mashed with carrots, cream, butter, and the juices from whatever meat is being served (usually lamb). I’ve found that a great way to make a rutabaga-lover out of a former-hater is by mashing them up with some sharp cheddar cheese (preferably with a little butter or cream). Or, if you’re feeling a little fancy, try this- Andreas Viestad’s recipe for vanilla scented rutabagas.
Make a casserole out of it
A Rutabaga casserole (or hotdish, where I’m from) is a very homey, very satisfying dish to make in the fall and winter. Great served alongside some baked cod or halibut, or even paired with some roasted chicken. I suppose it would also make a nice little middle of the week lunch all on it’s own.
(Serves about 6)
2 small or 1 large rutabaga, peeled and sliced into 1/2” (1 cm) thick pieces
good pinch of salt
1/4 cup (4 Tblsp/ 55 g) unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 cup (175 ml) half-and-half (alternatively whole milk or cream)
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
salt and pepper, to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon each)
2 eggs, whisked together
Handful of bread crumbs (preferably whole wheat or rye)
- Salt a pot of water and start boiling the rutabaga slices. Preheat your oven to 400F/200C.
- While the rutabagas cook, make a sauce by melting the butter over medium-low heat in a separate pot. Whisk in the flour, continuing to whisk until smooth, then whisk in the half-and-half. Remove from the heat, add the sugar, cinnamon, salt and pepper, and eggs. Stir well.
- Once the rutabaga slices are soft, reserve half of them, mash the other half with the cream sauce, then mix in the remaining slices.
- Butter an oval or round baking dish (a deep pie plate works fine), pour the mixture into the dish, sprinkle the bread crumbs over, and bake in the middle of your oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the surface begins to brown.
Serve it to your baby
Cook up some rutabagas (steaming or roasting is best), perhaps with some other good root vegetables and potatoes and puree along with your baby’s favorite meat. I’ve steamed rutabagas on the stove top with some carrots, potatoes, and a bay leaf then once they’re just about cooked through, I’ve added some small pieces of lean lamb meat to the pot. Once everything is cooked through, you can puree the dinner to your baby’s desired consistency. A filling meal very rich in Vitamin C and iron!
Or, just eat it raw
No really, it’s good! I’ve learned that when my father-in-law was growing up in Norway in the 50s, his teacher would give all of her student’s slices of raw rutabaga when they’d get to school. It sounds a little weird, but I kind of like the image of all those rosy-cheeked kids in their wool sweaters gnawing on wedges of rutabaga in the morning. Although she may not have known all the technical details (that they’re a really good source of Vitamin C, folate, potassium, dietary fiber, calcium, iron, niacin, Vitamin A, and phytochemicals), she knew that they were good for her kids. You may not like it the first time you try it raw, but I promise after you’re second or third try, raw rutabagas will start growing on you. And as everyone knows, just about any raw vegetable tastes good when dipped into a bowl of ranch dressing.