As a culinary instructor, I hear this again and again, “I have never really liked turnip or rutabaga”. My goal is to change that comment – I am going to root for rutabaga. Actually, the term turnip and rutabaga are often used simultaneously. In this post, I will focus on the lowly rutabaga.
First, I will explore what a rutabaga actually is, then explain how to properly cut a rutabaga, and then share a recipe with you on how to prepare a delicious braised rutabaga side dish that will change anyone’s mind when it comes to eating rutabaga. My grandchildren love this recipe!
Rutabaga is certainly an underrated root vegetable and one of my favourite, actually. It is a root vegetable that is, surprisingly, a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. It is sometimes called a turnip, or a Swede, or even a ‘neep’. Whatever it is called, it is worthwhile knowing how to prepare it properly.
There is no waste when it comes to using a rutabaga. The leafy tops of the rutabaga are edible, and I remember harvesting a few of the younger leaves of the plant when I was gathering produce for dinner from my Dad’s large garden. The young leaves are zesty in taste if used raw in a salad mix, however, try sautéing them. They are delicious and all that is needed is a bit of butter, minced garlic, salt and pepper for a change in your vegetable repertoire. They are quite mild in taste – much like spinach.
Nutritionally speaking, the edible greens are an excellent source high in vitamins K, A and C, along with manganese and fibre. The root of the rutabaga provides Vitamin A, C, B-12, B-6, D, Iron and Magnesium. The underrated Rutabaga is not so lowly after all, is it?
So, let’s get to the peeling and eating part. One of the first steps is peeling the rutabaga. This is often where the problem lies. When I teach my vegetable classes (Veggin’ It – A Fresh Approach), students are surprised when I teach them how to properly peel and cut a rutabaga. They are even more surprised when I had them taste it raw, and then again after it was cooked. Each and every time, I had them hooked!