Seasonal Recipes for February – Rockin’ the Rutabaga


Did you hear the one about the cabbage and the turnip getting married and giving birth to the rutabaga?

Well…it’s true.  The rutabaga resembles a large yellow turnip and is suspected of having wild cabbage in its genetic makeup.

Known as the “Swedish Turnip,” the rutabaga’s name derives from the Swedish word rotabagge ~ “rot” for “root” and “bagge” for “bag.”

A Eurasian brassicaceous plant (Brassica napobrassica), rutabaga is cultivated for its bulbous yellow- or white-fleshed, edible tuber, which is used as a vegetable.

The fibrous material is excellent for slicing with a Kyocera ceramic knife.

What exactly does a rutabaga taste like?

It’s a little bitter, but that bitterness is balanced with a nice, sweet earthiness.

But recipes often hide the taste.

Swedes and Norwegians cook rutabagas with potatoes, sometimes with the addition of carrots (“for their color”), and mash them with butter and either stock or, occasionally, milk or cream, to create a puree called rotmos (Swedish, literally: root mash) and kålrabistappe (Norwegian). Onion is occasionally added.

Here’s our favorites recipe:

Rutabaga with Caramelized Onions and Apples

1 small to medium rutabaga

2 tart cooking/baking apples

2 yellow onions

4 tablespoons butter, divided

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste

  1. Peel onions and cut in half. Slice thinly. Peel and core apples; slice, then julienne into matchsticks about 1/4 inch thick. Toss apples and onions together to combine.
  2. Melt three (3) tablespoons butter in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-low heat.  When butter is melted, add onion-and-apple mixture and allow to cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes to one (1) hour. About 30 minutes into the cooking time, sprinkle one (1) tablespoon of brown sugar over the onion mixture and gently stir in.
  3. When onions are deep golden brown and caramelized, add 1-1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar to pan and stir, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan. Cook for 1-to-2 minutes longer until vinegar is absorbed, then turn off heat and set aside.
  4. While the onion mixture is cooking, wash and peel the rutabaga. Cut into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch dice. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook diced rutabaga until tender ~ about 20 minutes. Cooking time will vary according to the size of your dice, so test at five-minutes intervals. The rutabaga is done when it is fork-tender. Drain well.
  5. Remove onion mixture from pan and melt remaining one (1) tablespoon butter in the same pan. When melted, add rutabaga cubes. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook over medium-low heat until heated through, about 10 minutes.
  6. Add onion mixture back to pan and gently stir into rutabaga cubes. Let cook for a minute or two to heat through.  Serve immediately.

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