Rutabagas 101 – The Basics

Rutabagas are a vegetable that many of us are not familiar with. Yet, they are popular around the world. Are we missing something? Well, maybe! In researching about this lowly vegetable, I learned a lot about the nutritional and health benefits of including them in our diet. And they can be eaten raw or cooked, and prepared in a variety of ways. If given a chance, we’re all surely to find something to love about rutabagas!

Check out my video below where I discuss rutabagas. Not only do I cover nutritional aspects, but how to select, store, and prepare them as well, including what herbs, spices and other foods go well with rutabagas. Give them a try! The information notes are below the video for your reference. Enjoy!

I hope this helps!

Rutabagas 101 – The Basics

They are only called rutabaga in the US. Everywhere else, they are called a “swede”. They are believed to have originated in Bohemia in the 1600s as a cross between a cabbage and turnip. In Sweden, they are often used in place of potatoes.

Flavor: Nutty and sweet with a mild turnip-like flavor, with some bitterness.

Nutrition tidbits
Rutabagas are member of the Brassica family (cabbage family), so they are high in antioxidants and anti-cancer agents. They are high in vitamin C which also helps the body absorb the iron that it contains. They are also rich in beta-carotene, potassium, manganese, magnesium, calcium, and more. Their nutrients help to form collagen and thyroid hormones, encourage wounds to heal, boost the immune system, and promote healthy bones, teeth, gums, and blood vessels.

Low in calories (1 medium has about 145 calories)

How to select rutabagas
Look for purple tinged skin, which indicates ripeness. Avoid bruised or blemished ones and any with shoots growing out of it (indicates it is overripe). Smaller ones tend to be more tender and flavorful.

How is it usually eaten…raw or cooked?
Rutabagas can be eaten raw (as a snack, or grated into salads or slaws), but they are usually eaten cooked. Cooking releases a sweet yet savory flavor.

Fresh vs frozen vs canned
They are only available fresh (as far as I know).

Prep/Cooking/Serving Methods
Wash the rutabaga to remove any dirt. Slice in half, cutting through the center. Place on its flat surface and cut into ½” semicircles. Discard the first and last pieces. Remove outer skin with a paring knife; cut into cubes.

Boil with a little sweetener for about 10 minutes.

Stir-fry for about 7 minutes.

Bake with a few tablespoons of water at 350F for 1 hour, until tender.

Mash: Bring salted water to boil; lower heat and simmer for 40 minutes. Drain, mash. Butter and nutmeg or cinnamon can be added, to taste.

Rutabagas are typically eaten in a mixture of mashed rutabagas, potatoes, onions, and carrots with butter and salt.

How to preserve it
Rutabagas can be kept for months in cool, slightly humid conditions, and can be stored unwashed in the crisper of the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Cooked rutabaga can be frozen.

Herbs/spices that go well with rutabagas
Rosemary, garlic, paprika, nutmeg, cinnamon, olive oil, molasses, black pepper, mustard, brown sugar

Other foods that go well with rutabagas
Dairy: milk, butter, cream, cream cheese, and Parmesan cheese

Produce: apple, pear, carrots, parsnip, onion, potatoes, and sweet potatoes

Savory: egg, beef, poultry, pork, and lamb

Recipe links
Creamy Mashed Rutabagas

Pan Roasted Rutabagas

Roasted Rutabaga in Brown Butter

Hasselback Rutabagas

Mashed Rutabagas with Carrots

Rutabaga can also be made into oven fries: Toss rutabaga spears 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 425F for 30 minutes.

Rutabaga can be delicious raw. You can shave or grate early-season (late fall) roots and use immediately. Toss with vinegar and olive oil and let sit 15 minutes before serving, as in this Asian-inspired shaved rutabaga and scallion salad …

Roasted rutabaga is an easy weeknight side dish. Cube rutabaga and toss in olive oil with salt on a sheet pan. Roast at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. Add maple syrup and fresh thyme to accentuate rutabaga’s sweetness.

Mashed rutabaga with sour cream and dill

Rutabaga Sweet Potato Apple Soup

Roasted Rutabaga with Maple Syrup and Thyme

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