As its name implies, the rutabaga is a root vegetable. They're often mistaken for turnips because they are actually a cross between a turnip and cabbage. In season from October to March, rutabagas are a low-calorie vegetable (with only 52 calories per 1 cup serving) and high in vitamin C. In addition, rutabagas contain fiber and are a good source of potassium. On top of their nutritional benefits, rutabagas have a versatility that allows them to be prepared and enjoyed in many different ways.
Cooking with Rutabagas
Rutabagas are members of the cruciferous vegetable family, along with Brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli. They have a sweet, mildly peppery flavor and starchy texture which makes them an easy substitute for turnips or potatoes in recipes. After peeling away their rough purple or yellow skin, shave raw rutabaga onto salads for a piquant crunch or cook them to obtain a sweeter, more savory flavor. They can be baked into chips or fries, boiled and mashed, pureed into soups or sautéed. In addition, roasting further enhances their natural sweetness. Ingredients such as caraway seeds, dill and lemon juice pair well with rutabagas; they also can be seasoned with any spices typically used with potatoes or turnips.
How to Select and Store a Rutabaga
When at the farmers market or grocery store, select a rutabaga that is firm, smooth and heavy for its size. Avoid any with soft spots or deep cuts that expose the inner flesh. Small-to-medium-sized rutabagas tend to be sweeter and milder than larger ones, so decide what flavor is most desirable before choosing your size. Grocery stores often coat rutabagas with wax to maintain moisture — so remove the peel with a vegetable peeler before cooking.
When you get your rutabaga home, store it in a cool, dry place such as a cellar or refrigerator. Hearty ones will keep for two weeks to a month when stored properly.
- 1 small rutabaga, skin removed, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
- 1½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 425˚F.
- In a bowl, toss rutabaga with olive oil, smoked paprika and garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Arrange rutabaga on a baking sheet, avoiding overcrowding to prevent steaming and subsequent loss of crispiness. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, turning halfway through.
- Serve warm with your favorite dipping sauce of choice for a satisfying snack or alongside a homemade bean burger as part of a nutritious meal. Serves 2.