Shari Duncan

Do you Rutabaga?

by on Dec.25, 2010, under Fruits and Veggies, General Nutrition, Recipes

Probably the most underutilized vegetable in America, the rutabaga can be cooked any way you’d treat other roots; including roasting, baking, mashing, boiling, stir-frying.

The rutabaga may be one of the least known, and under-appreciated vegetables around, but in my opinion definitely one of the tastiest.  But don’t confuse them for turnips…They have a distinct, sweet taste that is earthy and AWESOME!  Because many people don’t know what they are, or what to do with them they get overlooked and underused.  They are inexpensive and abundant year round in the grocery. The versatile rutabaga can be eaten raw or cooked and are excellent in stews and soups. They can be roasted, baked, made into fries, are delicious in a low country boil or… the favorite in our home – boiled and mashed.  Our holiday meals are not complete without a big steaming bowl of mashed Rutabagas!

Mashed Rutabaga’s with Ham

3-4  rutabagas will yield enough  for a dozen people to enjoy – The flavor is earthy and sweet and the color is a golden amber.

  • 3-4 medium rutabagas
  • Ham scraps (or smoked turkey)
  • Salt, to taste
  • (Optional: 1-2 tsp sugar)

    Sweet, Earthy and AWESOME!

  1. Fill a large pot with water and add country ham scraps, or smoked turkey parts. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil.2. Using a sharp knife, peel and cube the rutabagas.3. Carefully place the rutabagas in the boiling water, adding salt – be careful, as the rutabagas will cook down and the rutabagas will pick up the flavor from the ham and you may regret excessive salting! Let the vegetables come to a boil, cover and simmer for at least an hour. The whitish raw rutabaga turns yellow-orange as it cooks. The rutabagas are done when they are soft, very much like a non-starchy boiled potato.

    4.  Drain excess water (reserve), mash and season with a bit of pepper, pepper vinegar or hot sauce, if you like added heat, or a bit of sugar for added sweet – adding back reserve “pot liquor” if desired or needed.

In the early part of the 17th century, Swiss botanist Casper Bauhin crossed a cabbage with a turnip and got a RUTABAGA. It first became very popular in northern Europe. It was also very popular with ancient Greeks and Romans.  Their popularity spread to the rest of Europe and it remained a mainstay of the European table until the potato displaced it in the 18th century. Parsnips came to America with English colonials but never reached the kind of widespread appeal it once achieved in Europe.

Mature rutabaga roots should be four to six inches in diameter and free of bruises and blemishes.

The rutabaga is a member of the Cruciferae family  Cruciferous vegetables including cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and turnips, contain phytonutrients that have been shown to help the liver remove carcinogens, as well as other toxic chemicals. Including several servings of these vegetables in your weekly diet may help reduce your risk of cancer. Nutritionally, rutabagas contain significant amounts of vitamin C and E which are powerful antioxidants. They are also fiber rich and high in potassium.


Calories: One cup of cooked rutabaga has 66.3 calories, 3 percent of the daily value (DV). Roughly 57 calories are from carbohydrates, 6.1 from protein and 3.1 from fat.

Carbohydrates: There are 14.9 grams of carbohydrates in a one cup serving – 10.2 grams are sugars and 3.1 grams (12 percent DV) are fiber. Fiber has many health benefits, including maintaining regular bowels, regulating blood sugar levels and promoting weight loss.

Protein: A one-cup serving has 2.2 grams of protein, 4 percent DV, and contains every essential amino acid.

Fat: Rutabagas have very little fat, only 0.4 grams (1 percent DV). Most is polyunsaturated fat, the healthy fat.

Rutabagas are cholesterol free

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