Ingredient Introduction #1 – Rutabaga

New year, new challenge.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve walked through the grocery store and let so many peculiar products sit there without exploration.

From fruit to roots, they catch my wandering eye and nothing more. Okay, maybe I’ll Google the name and read up on it. But is that really enough? I mean, food is about tasting, smelling, touching and eating, right?

So there you have it. Every week (give or take a few) for the rest of the year, I’m going to pick an adventurous ingredient and work with it. I expect failures. I expect successes. Heck, I expect the producers of “Julie & Julia” to call me with an offer from Meryl Streep. She’d shave her head to play me, wouldn’t she?

This isn’t a gimmick. I swear.

I’m just forcing myself to learn, and enjoy the things that someone is eating. I mean, the stores wouldn’t stock it if no one’s buying it, would they? That doesn’t apply to the makers of head cheese, for your information.

My first pick was the rutabaga.

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Yes, it sounds like a sneeze and looks like a mishapen croquetball, but I assure you it’s a tremendous treat!

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If you like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, or potatoes, you’ll love this.

I cut the funky ends off, then cut it into quarters. Then, use a vegetable peeler to get rid of the waxy skin.

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The inside has an orangey shade.

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This root veggie is sometimes called a Swede (the name “rutabaga” comes from a Swedish word), and it’s technically a cross between cabbage and a turnip.

I’ll admit it. I’ve never had a turnip – so I can’t vouch for the connection. But, I adore cabbage and I can tell you that, raw and cooked, it definitely resembles the flavor of cabbage or Brussels sprouts.

You get a blast of vitamin C and dietary fiber from it, and it’s one heck of a sub for spuds.

Rutabagas have about half the amount of carbs and about 1/3 of the calories you’d find in a potato, give or take.

The good news is that you can cook them like a potato, too.

I got 2 rutabagas; roasted one and mashed the other.

For roasting:

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Cut into cubes. The smaller the cubes, the faster they’ll cook.
Toss ’em in olive oil, salt, pepper, and grated nutmeg.

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I cooked ’em at 425 for about 30 minutes.

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Keep an eye on ’em, toss ’em every so often. When they’re tender enough to be poked with a fork – they’re done. You’ll get a little caramelization on the outside. They’re super sweet!

For boiling:

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Cut into cubes. Again, the smaller they are, the faster they’ll boil. It didn’t take very long for them to cook through – about 15 minutes.

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When they’re fork tender, mash ’em with a cup of milk (I did 2%), salt, pepper, 2 cloves grated garlic, grated nutmeg, and 2 handfuls of Parmesan cheese. You can nix the garlic and Parmesan, and throw in cinnamon for a sweeter style.

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I had a little bit of grated cheese and a little bit of shredded. So I used both.

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This has the richness of mashed potatoes, and a flavor that’s waaaaay better than butter.

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Think about it, potatoes don’t really taste like anything, except for the fat (or maybe garlic) that you add to them. Rutabagas bring their own flavor to the table.

You could probably makes chips with them, too. Just slice thinly on a mandoline and bake.

Rutabagas will definitely make into my shopping cart from now on. No more passing glances.

How do you rutabaga?!

Tip: Dig into a pomegranate.

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They’re kind of daunting, I know. But it’s not bad to crack one open.

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Fill a big bowl with water.

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Cut the end off one side of the fruit, then score it all the way around. Stick it in the water and pull it apart.

This serves two purposes: it’ll save your cloves from the stain-strong juice that can fly out of any seeds that rupture. Plus, the seeds (the part you want) will sink, while the pith floats.

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Skim away the pith and pick out any seeds that aren’t the color of Dorothy’s slippers.

The seeds are sweet, and have a little bit of a zing to ’em. They’re crunchy, so they’re a great addition to a salad, yogurt, rice, couscous, or quinoa.

Throw ’em in a blender, then strain to get pomegranate juice.

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This is a super fruit because its overloaded with antioxidants, vitamins, copper (important for metabolism), potassium and other goodies.

They can be pricy, but they’re so worth it!

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Mary Lu Saylor says:

    What a great idea! You are so adventurous!

    1. Thanks!! I’m enjoying it so far!

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