If you are intimidated by the strangeness or sheer sized of the giant rutabagas in this week’s share—fear not! There are so many tasty and simple ways to use this humble vegetable, that you’ll quickly be wishing you had a few more.
Also called a Swede, yellow turnip, or a “neep” in Ireland, the rutabaga is a member of the brassica family and is a cross—improbably—between a cabbage and a turnip. Although it is not well-known in North America, rutabagas were a staple crop for fill bellies, both man and animal, in Europe during and after World War II. Consequently, it has unfortunate associations with famine a poverty.
When I lived in Germany, I used to ride my bicycle passed a field with piles of rutabagas stretching two stories high, and stopped to ask the farmer what this strange vegetable was. “Steckrübe,” he called it, was just “food for animals.”
But don’t let that put you off! Rutabagas are filling and delicious. Sweet like a carrot, less starchy than a turnip, easier to peel than a butternut squash, and with half the calories of a sweet potato, rutabagas are truly a wonder-vegetable and can be substituted in just about any recipe that calls for its root-y cousins.
Rutabagas can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks, and keep on the counter for about a week. They make a great addition to mashed potatoes, and can be grated and added to salads or coleslaws.
Since we also have some beautiful parsley in the share this week, I’ll be roasting mine tonight with parsley and browned butter.