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A Guide to Rutabaga (Plus 3 Easy Recipes to Get You Started)

March 24, 2019 (Last Updated: October 15, 2023)
Rutabaga, What Is It and How to Cook It

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 as 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 this root vegetable, how to cook it, and three easy rutabaga recipes to get you started: rutabaga noodle persillade, rutabaga and sweet potato fries, and rutabaga casserole with walnut and chestnut crumble.

What is Rutabaga?

Every 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, what is rutabaga, and how to cook with it?

What happens if you cross a cabbage with a turnip? Rutabaga happens (it happened a long time ago between a wild cabbage and a turnip). It is also called swede or Swedish turnip.

It is super popular in Nordic cuisine and is cooked in various ways:

  • boiled rutabaga
  • mashed rutabagas
  • roasted rutabaga
  • fried rutabaga
  • rutabaga casserole
  • stews made with rutabaga

Rutabaga can be added to any meal traditionally made with potatoes, but I have some favorite ways to cook it. I love rutabaga because it gets crispy when fried (and by fried, I mean sauteed on medium to high heat, not deep-fried) or baked.

What does rutabaga taste like?

It has a strong and interesting peppery flavor, something 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 the Japanese sweet potato, which has purple skin and white-ish flesh.


Is rutabaga good for you?

What about rutabaga’s health benefits? Rutabaga is considered part of the cruciferous family, and according to has antioxidant properties and is rich in vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamin C and iron.

Rich in beta-carotene, rutabaga is also an excellent source of manganese and potassium, and it’s rich in prebiotic fiber, thiamin, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Is rutabaga a starch?

Yes, rutabaga is a resistant starch, which will feed your good gut bacteria. The resistant starch content increases when cooled and re-heated (which is a good thing). Make sure you have it with lots of extra virgin olive oil.

How to prepare rutabaga – Three easy rutabaga recipes

Rutabaga and Sweet Potato Fries

This dish is so good I prefer it to normal potatoes. I love to cut rutabaga 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 black pepper, 1 sprig of fresh thyme or rosemary. Optional: bacon and/or chopped onions. Make about two servings.

METHOD: Peel the rutabaga and sweet potato with a vegetable peeler, 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 toss well to ensure 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.

Optionally, you can add chopped spring onions (scallions), garlic or garlic powder, or even bacon to this dish. It will be like rustic potatoes. Serve as a side or with eggs and greens for a lectin-free breakfast. This is also excellent if cooled and reheated, so 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.

Rutabaga and Sweet Potato Fries

In case you wonder, a similar result, but not exactly the same, can be achieved by baking at 375F – 400F. Use a stainless steel baking sheet without parchment paper to get the crisp.

Rutabaga Noodle Persillade

In need of something to spiralize? Rutabaga might be the greatest vegetable out there to make noodles with. It has yellow flesh and 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 (don’t use garlic powder), 1 generous handful of fresh chopped parsley, salt and pepper.

METHOD: Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the rutabaga noodles, and 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 Noodle Persillade

Rutabaga Casserole with Walnut and Chestnut Crumble

A casserole is another great way to 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 six servings.

METHOD: Remove the skin of the rutabaga and the sweet potato, roughly cube them, add to cold water, and bring to a boil. Cook 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, and 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 it in the oven.

Other ways to cook with rutabaga

You can add it to soups, stews, or roasted vegetable medley. Mashed rutabagas can replace mashed potatoes. Rutabaga tastes slightly spicy and peppery, so I like to balance it with other veggies.

Nordics like allspice seasoning with rutabaga, and I also like how it works with fresh rosemary, 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 it or if you tried any of these rutabaga recipes.

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  • Reply
    April 6, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    Perfect title and post for me. My husband just came home with rutabaga from the grocery store.

    • Reply
      April 6, 2019 at 10:42 pm

      Ah, perfect! That’s how I imagined people searching :). Let me know if you like it xx

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