Is it a Rutabaga or a Turnip?

So, in addition to taking a cooking class, I have been trying to follow the Weight Watchers program.  Yeah, that’ll work, right?  Well, let me say that both experiences have opened my eyes to a lot of new foods that I have never had before and perhaps never would have tried.  This is especially true in the area of vegetables.

Today, I was at the supermarket, and right next to the peppers was a display of what I thought were rutabagas, but the sign said that they were yellow turnips.  According to Wikipedia, the name is used interchangeably.  This root vegetable is a cross between a cabbage and a turnip.

Intrigued by this odd-looking little fella, with its purple and yellow skin, covered in a thick layer of wax, I bought one.

A little rutabaga trivia: Rutabagas thrive best in colder climates and they are popular in Scandinavian countries, especially in Sweden, where the vegetables are known as “swedes.” In Europe, rutabagas are still called swedes. In America, rutabagas were first cultivated in the northern parts of the country in the early 1800s. Canada and the northern part of the US are today’s largest producers of the rutabaga.

Now what to do with it?  Well, it was a good size, definitely more than enough for one person. First, I sliced off the thick waxy rind and found a nice yellow interior.  It had a consistency somewhat similar to that of a potato, but firmer. I tried a few different things with it.

  1. Rutabaga “chips” 
  2. Rutabaga “mash”
  3. As part of a roasted vegetable dish

The chips were simple.  They are healthier than potato chips and have a slightly sweeter taste – similar to a carrot.  Using a mandoline (I have an inexpensive plastic one, purchased for about $10), slice the turnip very thinly and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Spray lightly with olive oil in a “Misto”, or with cooking spray, and sprinkle with salt.  Place in a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until golden and crispy. 

For the mash, think “mashed potatoes”.  Simply substitute the rutabaga for most or all of the potatoes.  Boil in salted water until tender and breaks when you insert a fork in one of the pieces.  Add a teaspoon of butter and skim milk until you reach the desired consistency.  You may need to season further with salt and pepper.  I found that the mash was slightly bland and needed an additional flavor.  Next time, I may also include a couple of carrots or one potato in the mash.

For the roasted veggies, simply chop into 1/2″ cubes and include in the recipe.  I made a wonderful Indian-flavored roasted veggie dish.  Recipe will be included in the next post.

Oh, and for anyone following Weight Watchers, 4 oz. of rutabaga equals 1 point, vs. 2 points for 4 oz of potatoes.

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One comment on “Is it a Rutabaga or a Turnip?

  1. Pingback: Vegetarian-in-a-Bowl | Dishing with Diana

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