Rutabagas are root vegetables that are a cross between cabbage and turnips. Being so similar to the latter, they are known as yellow turnips; however, they are larger, often sweeter, and pale yellow versus their white counterpart. Rutabagas have lumpy and irregular shapes, with tan skin and purple rings around their crowns. They are readily available seasonally.
HOW TO SELECT AND STORE
Choose rutabagas that are heavy for their size and free of spots or cracks. Their skin should be firm and smooth, with a color that starts as a deep red or purple and fades into a tan. Avoid those that are spongy and soft, or that have a dull color. They can be stored unwashed in a plastic bag for up to 3 weeks. While most root vegetables can stay in a cool, dry place for months, rutabagas are best used closer to harvest - the longer they are out of the ground, the drier the root gets so it will be tougher and start losing its flavor.
A LITTLE HERE, A LITTLE THERE
Boil and mash them with milk and butter as you would potatoes or other vegetable purees
Dice and add to stews or casseroles
Chop and sauté with apples and onions then toss with an herbed vinaigrette
WHAT DO YOU GET FROM IT?
Rutabagas are fat and cholesterol-free, low in sodium, and an excellent source of Vitamin C and fiber.
HOW TO PREPARE AND COOK
Wash the rutabaga and cut off their stems and root ends. Peel them to remove the wax typically added to prevent dehydration. The roots can be a great substitute for turnips or potatoes in almost all recipes and cooking methods. If you are boiling them, removing the pot lid during cooking helps gases escape to give a better flavor. While you can prepare rutabaga roots in a variety of ways, don’t forget about their leaves as they can be eaten as a leaf vegetable.
DID YOU KNOW?
Rutabagas may have paved the way for pumpkins in the Halloween tradition of carving jack-o-lanterns. It is thought rutabagas were once hollowed out to make lanterns.
UPPER PENINSULA PASTIES
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup shortening
1 cup of cold water
1 pound boneless chuck steak, 1” cubed
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 onion, chopped
1/4 rutabaga, peeled and cubed
1 carrot, diced
1 tbsp garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper, to taste
6 tbsp margarine
In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water until the mixture forms a ball. Shape into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate.
In a large bowl, combine meat, potatoes, onion, rutabaga, carrots, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Divide dough into six pieces, shaping each into balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into a 6” circle. Place 1 cup meat filling on one half of each. Dot each with 1 tablespoon margarine.
Draw the other half of the pastry over the filling, crimping edges to seal. Prick top with a fork for steam to escape. Place pasties on parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake in 350* oven for 1 hour.