Rutabaga is a delicious and healthy addition to any diet, but I had no idea what rutabaga was until a few years ago. I discovered rutabaga, or swede how it’s called in Europe, when I started to explore a lectin-light diet and was looking for replacements for white potatoes. Read on to find out more about rutabaga and how to cook it and three easy recipes: rutabaga noodle persillade, rutabaga and sweet potato fries, and rutabaga casserole with walnut and chestnut crumble.
What is Rutabaga?
Every single time I shop rutabaga in Whole Foods, the cashier asks me what that is. The problem is that I can never pronounce it the way Americans do. So we always need a little time to figure out how to add it. But what is rutabaga and how to cook it?
What happens if you cross a cabbage with a turnip? Rutabaga happens (happened a long time ago between a wild cabbage and turnip). It is also called swede and is super popular in Nordic cuisine and is cooked in a variety of ways: boiled, mashed, roasted, fried, in casseroles, and stews.
Rutabaga can be added to any meal you would add potatoes, but I have some favorite ways to cook it. What I love about rutabaga is that it gets really crispy when fried (and by fried I mean sauteed on medium to high heat, not deep-fried) or baked. But, it has a strong and interesting peppery flavor, something in between cabbage and turnip (makes sense, right?).
For this reason, I feel rutabaga needs to be balanced with something else. One of my favorite pairings is Japanese sweet potato, the one that has purple skin and white-ish flesh.
What about nutrition? Rutabaga is considered part of the cruciferous family, and according to Mercola.com has antioxidant properties and is rich in Vitamin C and iron. Rich in beta-carotene, rutabaga is also an excellent source of manganese and potassium, rich in fiber, thiamin, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
In The Plant Paradox and The Longevity Paradox food lists, rutabaga is listed under resistant starches, ‘in moderation”, which means you can enjoy it a few times a week. Make sure you have it with lots of extra virgin olive oil and don’t forget that the resistant starch content increases when cooled and re-heated (which is a good thing). I normally rotate between resistant starches, so will not have rutabaga that often (maybe a couple of times a month).
Rutabaga and Sweet Potato Fries
This dish is so good, I actually prefer it to normal potatoes. I love to cut them in cubes because they cook evenly and get a nice golden-brown crust.
INGREDIENTS: 1 rutabaga, 1 Japanese sweet potato, extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil, 1/4 teaspoon allspice, salt, and pepper, 1 sprig of fresh thyme or rosemary. Optional: bacon and/or chopped onions. Make about two servings.
METHOD: Peel the sweet potato and rutabaga, wash them with cold water, and cut them into about 1/2 inch cubes. Pat dry them. Add oil to a skillet, as much as to generously cover the bottom of your skillet. Heat the olive or avocado oil and add the cubed rutabaga and potatoes. Add a sprig of thyme or rosemary and stir well to make sure all the cubes are coated with the hot oil (keep the heat to medium, never on high).
Cook for about 20-30 minutes on medium heat and continue to stir occasionally so they get browned evenly. Add the spices and seasonings at about halftime. Whenever they get a nice golden brown color they are ready.
There will be a slight difference in texture between the sweet potato and rutabaga, and that’s one of the things I love about this dish: each mouthful is a surprise, in both taste and texture. The combination just works for me.
You can also add some chopped spring onions (scallions), garlic, or even bacon to this dish. It will be like country potatoes. Serve as a side or with eggs and greens, for a lectin-free breakfast. This is also excellent if cooled and reheated, so you can make it part of your meal prep. Add some extra virgin olive oil when serving for more nutritional value. And it costs about $1.50.
In case you wonder, a similar result, but not exactly the same, can be achieved by baking, at 375F – 400F. To get the crisp, use a stainless steel baking sheet without parchment paper.
Rutabaga Noodle Persillade
In need of something to spiralize? Rutabaga might be the greatest vegetable out there to make noodles off. It can be done easily with a simple, handheld spiralizer, like this one I have from Oxo.
INGREDIENTS: 1 rutabaga, extra virgin olive oil, 3-4 garlic cloves or fresh, spring garlic, 1 generous handful of fresh parsley, chopped, salt and pepper.
METHOD: Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a skillet, on medium heat. Add the rutabaga noodles, stir well with kitchen tongs so the noodles are equally coated with the oil. Sautee until they start getting brown spots and stir occasionally. When they soften up, they are ready. Add the garlic and parsley at the end, stir well and keep on heat for just 1 more minute.
These are my favorite pans for making this type of dish: All-Clad D3 Stainless Steel Frying pan cookware set, 10-Inch and 12-Inch, Silver
Rutabaga Casserole with Walnut and Chestnut Crumble
A casserole is another great way to cook and prepare rutabaga.
INGREDIENTS: 1 medium rutabaga, one medium Japanese sweet potato, 2/3 cup peeled, cooked, canned chestnuts (I found a great organic and affordable brand at Trader Joe’s), 1/4 cup walnuts, 2 pasture-raised eggs, a handful of grated Parmigiano Reggiano, salt, pepper, one grated nutmeg, lemon zest of one lemon, extra virgin olive oil, fresh chopped parsley.
Makes about 6 servings.
METHOD: Peel, roughly cube and boil the rutabaga and potato until fork tender. In the meantime process the walnuts and chestnuts in a food processor, until they resemble a crumble.
Add the cooked rutabaga and potatoes to an oven dish with a few tablespoons of the cooking water, drizzle extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and loosely mash (you want some of it mashed but also some chunks in between).
Beat the eggs with nutmeg and lemon zest and pour on top of the mash. Add the crumble mix on top, stir so it gets combined with the rest of the ingredients.
Sprinkle some grated Parmigiano Reggiano on top and bake at 375F for about 25 minutes. Serve with fresh parsley and hot sauce and drizzle a lot of extra virgin olive oil on top. You can have it as a side dish or main. For extra nutritional value serve with a green salad next to it.
I eat some fresh and the rest freeze in individual portions for later use. You can warm in the oven.
Other ways to cook with rutabaga
You can add it to soups, stews or to a roasted vegetable medley. You can use it any way you would use a potato. It has a slightly spicy, peppery taste though, that’s why I like to balance it out with other veggies. Nordics like to use allspice seasoning with rutabaga, and I also like how it works with fresh rosemary or thyme, salt and pepper. Always add extra virgin olive oil when serving, for a slower release of the sugars/carbs.
Comment below if you have a favorite way you cook rutabaga or you tried any of these recipes.
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