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  • Writer's pictureChef Kelly Unger

How do you cook a Rutabaga? And why would you want to?

What in the world is a rutabaga? And more importantly, how do you cook it?

Well, “Rutabaga is a large, round, root vegetable. It’s also known as swede. It’s a form of Brassica napus and a hybrid between a turnip and wild cabbage. Rutabaga actually looks like a large turnip. But it has a yellowish and brownish colour on the outside and has an orange-yellow colour inside {versus the whiter interior and exterior of the turnip}. Rutabagas grow only in cool climates.” Rutabaga also goes by the name Swedish Turnip, Yellow Turnip, and Neep. Why? I have no idea!

This time of year all of the long storage root crops are being harvested, so we can get them with their greens still attached sometimes. Rutabaga greens are edible and delicious. They are somewhat small in comparison to turnip greens and often more like a radish green. They would make a lovely topping when chopped to a roasted rutabaga dish or as a component in a greens salad.

Let’s give rutabaga’s their health dues. Loaded with Vitamin C and fiber as well as low in carbohydrates and all parts edible, the rutabaga deserves a seat at the table. They can stand in for potatoes for those that are super sensitive to carbs or be included in a potato dish to cut the carb load. You will need to peel this vegetable, however, and I am loath to peel any vegetable. But sometimes it is called for. The rutabaga skin is thick and can sometimes get waxy. But it will compost well or serve as excellent food for the outdoor creatures.

I haven’t used rutabagas in the past that often, if I’m honest. So I asked farmer Dan, from Pan’s Forest at the Doylestown Farmers Market, who will have a hearty supply this week, what his favorite way to eat rutabagas is. Dan likes to roast them with thyme, garlic, fennel and Hershberger Heritage Farm bacon ends. What a delicious idea! I view this as a sheet pan hash, an easy one pan main meal or side dish. I’ll share my version of this recipe with you this week. Some other ways to enjoy rutabagas are very similar to potatoes: mashed, mashed with potatoes and diced kale for Colcannon, Hasselback style, baked whole, diced and added to soups, finely julienned and added to a raw salad with apples and celery.

Roasted Rutabagas with Bacon Ends

Recipe by Chef Kelly Unger

2 medium or 1 large rutabaga, peeled and diced into large chunks

1 fennel bulb, white bulb and green stems sliced, some fronds chopped and reserved for garnish, the rest reserved for another use

1 large carrot, cut in large bite sized pieces

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

½ pound Hershberger Heritage Farm bacon ends

Olive oil, salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Place all of the vegetables and bacon ends on the baking sheet in a pile in the middle. Drizzle with olive oil and thyme. Use your hands or a spoon to toss all of the ingredients together to cover with the oil and thyme. Press the pile out into a single layer across the baking sheet. Season with pepper only. Place in the preheated oven and roast for about 30 minutes or until everything is fork tender and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and season with salt. Toss everything together, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary, garnish with chopped fennel fronds and serve hot. Enjoy!

I hope you’ll give rutabagas a try! For more insight into the difference between a rutabaga and a turnip, click the link below!

What’s the difference between a Rutabaga and a Turnip?

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