The following facts and recipe are brought to you by Faith Durand at theKitchn.
Turnips, kohlrabi, celery root, rutabaga. Root vegetables all, and often left for last by otherwise enterprising cooks who are flummoxed by their ugly looks and famine-food reputations. Among these intimidating vegetables, rutabaga looms large — both because of its size, and because it is simply one food that's hard to imagined eating for any meal. Give rutabaga a chance. Here's why it deserves a place of honor right beside potatoes and sweet potatoes.
First, the facts. Rutabaga (also called swede) is in the Brassica family, that of turnips and cabbage, and when you cut one open you get a very definite whiff of the cruciferous. Technically, rutabaga is actually a direct cross between cabbage and turnips, and it shares turnips' slightly bitter flavor. Raw rutabaga tastes milder than turnips though, almost like a carrot without sweetness. It's crisp, juicy, and just a tiny bit piquant.
In cooked dishes, though, that's where rutabagas shine. The rutabaga has a more mellow, golden appearance than turnips or potatoes, and when cooked it turns sweet yet savory — like the richest golden potato you can imagine. It's less starchy, but still very satisfying.
Another plus to the rutabaga: It's actually quite easy to peel! The outer peel is usually waxed to preserve freshness all winter long, and it peels away easily with a sharp vegetable peeler. The flesh itself is very hard, but I like to slice it away in thin slices, starting from the outside.
You can mash rutabagas with a little milk and cream, just like potatoes, or add some chunks to mashed potatoes. They add color and flavor, and all on their own they mash up deliciously golden and colorful. They are just as simple to cook as potatoes, and maybe a bit more delicious.
Rutabaga Chipotle SoupIngredients
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 large rutabagas, peeled and diced (this yields about 5 cups)
4 cups broth of choice (chicken or vegetable)
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 to 1 teaspoon dried ground chipotle* (see note below!)
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground
Salt to taste
Melt butter in a large pot and add onion and celery, cooking until browned. Season with salt. Add the rutabaga and the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the rutabaga is fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Add the chipotle and the white pepper. Stir well.
Process in a blender or food processor until smooth, and pass through a fine mesh sieve to remove any chunks. Stir in the cream and taste. Gently simmer for 15 minutes. Add more salt, white pepper, chipotle, or paprika if you think it needs it.
*Note about the chipotle: this pepper is spicy! I could handle a full teaspoon of it, but it's always best to start small and work your way up where chiles are concerned. Start off with 1/4 of a teaspoon, stir, taste, and keep adding 1/4 teaspoon more until you reach your desired heat level. If you overdo it, you can cool it down with sour cream or plain yogurt.