Poor rutabagas – so misunderstood! So ignored and under-appreciated!
Not around here though. They have always been a big favorite of ours, and this is the perfect time of year to enjoy them.
They are a very easy vegetable to grow, though here they don’t seem to become quite as large as the ones we can buy in the store – you want to harvest them at about softball size, so that they don’t become fibrous. We are out of the ones we grew last fall, because though they keep quite a long time, we have long since eaten them all up.
Fortunately, it is still prime-time for rutabagas at the supermarket, because by this time of year, they are still delicious – maybe even better than they were in the fall. Stored properly, they seem to become sweeter and richer in flavor as they age. They have lots of vitamin C, and are a significant source of anti-oxidants.
We love them in soups and stews – the flavor seems to go especially well with beef. They are also good simply peeled, cubed and roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper. The girls considered rutabagas on the dinner table to be a particularly egregious form of child abuse, but even they could be persuaded to sample a couple of bites of Rutabaga Cheddar Mash.
You should not confuse rutabagas with turnips though – they look somewhat similar, though turnips are far smaller and more whitish on the light end. Turnips are also more watery, and would not work at all for this mash – make sure you are getting a rutabaga if you plan to give it a try.
- 1 large or several smaller rutabagas
- 1 large red potato [optional]
- kosher salt
- 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 small onion, peeled and cut in thin slices, pole to pole
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 ounces extra sharp cheddar, cut in ¼ inch cubes, or shredded
- 2 ounces buttermilk, or half & half
- salt & pepper to taste
- fresh parsley, chopped [optional]
- Peel the rutabaga - this is easier with one of the Y-shaped peelers [find a link below post], than with a regular side peeler. Cut the rutabaga into 1 inch cubes.
- Put the cut rutabaga in a 3 quart sauce pan, add a generous couple pinches of salt, fill with water to nearly cover the cubes, and set over medium heat, covered. When it comes up to a simmer, cook for about 15 minutes.
- Then, if you are using it, add the scrubbed and cubed red potato. [it adds a little body to the final dish, but can be left out if you don't want the added carbs], and bring back up a simmer.
- Cook for another 15 minutes or so, until the rutabaga is cooked through - a small knife inserted into a cube should meet no resistance.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saute pan, and add the minced garlic and the onion slices, and sprinkle lightly with about ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Keep the heat low, so that they become soft without getting much, if any, color on them.
- When the rutabaga is done, completely drain off the water. I like to put the pan back over medium heat, and stir the contents around a bit, to evaporate the excess water, just like when making mashed potatoes, but it's optional.
- Mash the rutabaga roughly - it should not be smooth, but rather kind of a rustic texture.
- Fold in the onions, garlic, cheese and buttermilk. Taste, and add additional salt and pepper, if needed. Serve hot, and refrigerate any leftovers.
A perfect early spring side!
Here’s a link to the peeler I like: OXO Y-Peeler
note: this post contains one or more Amazon affiliate links and I make a small commission on your purchase.