Sauté rutabaga in butter with apples and brown sugar, or dice and add rutabaga to vegetable soups and stews.
The rutabaga can be treated like a turnip in the kitchen—boiled, steamed, mashed, roasted, baked, and fried. When it’s served it will taste just a bit spicier than a turnip.
Rutabagas look something like turnips—round and slightly squat–but they usually grow larger—3 to 5 inches (7.5-13 cm) in diameter. Rutabagas often reach 3-5 pounds (1.1-1.8 kg), much larger than a turnip.
The skin of the rutabaga root is yellow deepening to purple at the top. You will know it’s a rutabaga and not a turnip by the leaf scars on its top.
A rosette of smooth, grayish-green leaves grow from the rutabaga’s swollen stem. They grow larger and fleshier, and they are more deeply lobed than turnip leaves.
The rutabaga’s skin is thin and its flesh is firm and pale- to golden yellow, although there is also a white fleshed variety of rutabaga.
The rutabaga was eaten in France and southern Europe during the sixteenth-century and was grown in Britain as early as the fifteenth-century.
Rutabagas are a cool-weather vegetable and taste best after the first frost. They store well in the ground until they are needed.
They are available year-round in many markets, but the peak season for rutabagas is mid summer through early spring.
Choose. Select a rutabaga that is smooth, firm, without blemishes, and heavy for its size.
Avoid large roots, they tend to be fibrous. If you smell a rutabaga, the more pronounced the odor, the more pungent the flavor.
Store. Rutabagas can be stored unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. The leaves should be removed to prevent the root from drying out. You can freeze rutabagas: first, blanch for 2 minutes, cooked or purée.
Prepare. Scrub rutabagas under cold running water before using. Cut into pieces and remove the core if it is brownish.
Serve. Serve rutabagas raw or cooked like you would turnips. Rutabagas can replace turnips in recipes.
- Shred or julienne new crop rutabagas to serve raw or marinated in salads.
- Use rutabagas in stews and soups. Allow 15 minutes for boiling and slightly longer—5 to 10 minutes–for steaming. Simmer rutabagas whole or sliced in a covered container for 20 to 40 minutes until tender—older roots may take longer.
- Purée rutabagas on their own or mix with mashed potatoes and carrots.
- Sauté or stir-fry rutabagas without a coating or batter for 10 to 15 minutes or until they are tender and slightly browned.
- To reduce pungency of rutabagas blanch for about 5 minutes before cooking.
- Serve rutabagas alone or mixed with greens, beans, peas, broccoli, mushrooms, celery, bacon, ham, or a combination of these.
- Serve rutabagas plain with butter or margarine, vinegar, or vinaigrette dressing.
- Season rutabagas with salt, pepper, dill, onion, garlic, marjoram, tarragon, savory, mustard, mace, nutmeg, allspice , cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mint, bay leaf, anise, caraway seed, parsley, sage, rosemary, or thyme.
- Steam rutabaga greens like mustard or turnip greens and add to leafy green salads.
Nutrition. Rutabagas contain a small amount of vitamins A and C.
Rutabaga facts and trivia. The rutabaga is thought to have gotten its start in Northern European gardens sometime during the Middle Ages as a spontaneous cross between a cabbage and a turnip.
The rutabaga takes its English name from the Swedish word for the same plant rotabagge. The rutabaga is also known in English-speaking countries as Swede and Swedish turnip.
The botanical name for the rutabaga is Brassica napus.