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Jan 22, 2009 06:56 AM

Rutabagas -- educate me, please.

I've seen these waxy-looking globes in the supermarket, but I never really thought twice about them. To me, they've always been among the produce items I always ignore." (Other items in that category include celery root and kohlrabi.) But recently, on the menu of a local restaurant, I noticed "Triple seared black angus beef with wild mushrooms and Madagascar vanilla bean-rutabaga puree" and that sparked my curiosity.

Just what IS rutabaga? Is it worth trying? Have I been missing out on something good? If I were so inclined, how would I make Madagascar vanilla bean rutabaga puree? And, besides beef, what food would you serve it with?

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  1. Rutabagas are root vegetables and are a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. It has a slightly sharp flavor. They are cold weather vegetables and is a good addition to a pan of roasted root veggies...which is how I like them. They are generally cooked as you would cook a potato. The waxy exterior is to protect them and to prepare it's peeled off. The rutabaga is usually cut in chunks then either boiled, steamed or as I mentioned, roasted.

    Here's a link to the Ohio State University Extension fact sheet with more information:

    I think to make the puree you asked about, I would simply boil or steam the chunks and mash with S & P along with the seeds from said vanilla bean..... probably adding a bit of cream as needed.....

    3 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      I see this is an older thread...hopefully someone will have thoughts... I received some very small fresh orgainc rutabagas in my co op share this week, not waxed and about the size of shallots. Maybe they're baby rutagagas! (Couldn't resist!) They are a little soft to the touch. Anyone else worked with them? I'm guessing they may be more mellow in flavor and take less time to cook than the larger ones. As we've never eaten them before, I'm thinking of boiling and flavoring as described in the thread, because there's only a few, perhaps cooking some potatoes in the cooking water first, and then tasting the cooked rutabagas before adding to the mashed potato. On the other hand, I am roasting a chicken, and could use the small amount with the vanilla flavor as described above, serving as a topping. Any thoughts?

      1. re: MCFAC

        They definitely are baby rutabagas! Like turnips they do best in cold storage which is why they might be a little soft. Rutabagas, at least to me, are on the sweet side. I've never had them with mashed potatoes but I've boiled and roasted them. Maybe cutting them up and placing them under the chicken? Something tells me that would be really good.

        1. re: MCFAC

          I like to just cut them up, steam them, mash 'em up so they're still lumpy, mix in tons of butter and some salt and a good couple twists of fresh ground black pepper. That's it.

          BTW, kohlrabi is heaven in summer - it's a pain to peel, but when you slice it thin and serve it raw and cold with homemade blue cheese dressing to dip it in, you know that summer is here.

      2. Rutabagas are in the turnip family. They have a bittersweet taste and somewhat fibrous texture. They are a good source of vitamin A (orange color). We usually make them the same way as mashed potatoes: peel, cut up into chunks, boil for about 20 minutes, and mash with milk & butter, seasoned with salt & pepper.
        Besides beef, they certainly would go fine with poultry (they are a fixture on our Thanksgiving table), lamb, or pork.

        1. Think a golden, sweeter turnip. One of my all-time favorite vegetables.

          For your first taste, chunk them up, toss with oil and salt, and roast at high heat. They'll take a while - at least an hour. Keep stirring to get them to carmelize on the edges. They're also very good mixed with other root vegetables and roasted under a chicken. (Get the vegetables started first, though, as they'll take longer than the bird.)

          I've recently been seeing some MAMMOTH specimens in my grocery store -- seriously, the size of bowling balls. One biggie I tried was just as good as the smaller ones, I thought. There's less peeling involved, but it's a little tough getting your first knife plunge through safely.

          2 Replies
          1. re: dmd_kc

            Agreed that slicing a large rutabaga in half does present safety issues, as the uncooked vegetable is very hard, and the knife may get stuck. I am trying to buy smaller ones -- no larger than the size of a modest grapefruit.

            1. re: dmd_kc

              I like them peeled, cubed and slowly roasted, covered, in a bit of stock until tender then pureed with butter and sherry.

            2. I use rutabagas in stews and soups.

              1. I love rutabega. But I find them a bit unwieldy to peel and chop. Just my 2 cents.