R is for Rutabaga, a Delicious and Nutritious Vegetable

R is for Rutabaga, a Delicious and Nutritious Vegetable



Rutabega. It’s not a word you hear often, yet this root vegetable has a long history. A Swiss botanist, Gaspard Bauhin, developed the rutabaga in the 17th century by crossing turnips with Vegetation Removal Melbourne cabbages, according to the Green Earth Institute Web site. One of the few foods available during World War II, Europeans ate rutabagas until they were sick of them. Rutabagas are still unpopular in Europe.

Maybe they should be popular again, for rutabagas have “many virtues, including versatility and excellent nutrition,” according to the Green Earth Institute.

The Cook’s Fresh Market Web site describes rutabaga as a member of the mustard family, like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, radishes, turnips, and califlower. Sometimes this root vegetable is called “Swedes,” a reference to its popularity among the Swedish. Rutabegas are rich in vitamins A and C and also contain potassium, calcium, iron, and niacin. A cup of rutabaga has only 50 calories.

One rutabaga goes a long way. Look for a rutabaga that is yellow to tan in color. Store in a cool, dry place. Cook in boiling water for about 20 minutes. Mash the rutabaga and eat with butter. For a flavor variation add one cup of mashed rutabaga to four cups of mashed potatoes. These recipes, Roasted Rutabaga and Pearl Onions and Orange-Rutabega Salad with Orange Vinaigrette, will help you appreciate this delicious, nutritious vegetable.

Roasted Rutabaga and Pearl Onions


10-ounce bag of fresh pearl onions

1 small rutabaga, peeled and cut into 3/4″ cubes

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon low sodium salt (may be omitted)

1/4 teaspoon seasoned pepper

1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves


Cover a jelly roll pan with release foil. Coat foil with cooking spray and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put onions in boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove and plunge into ice water. Remove skin, cut off ends, and transfer to jelly roll pan.

Set rutabega on cutting board. Carefully remove the skin with a sharp knife. Cut rutabaga into slices and then cubes. Add to onions.

Coat vegetables with olive oil. Combine sugar, paprika, salt, pepper and thyme. Sprinkle over the vegetables and toss. Roast vegetables, stirring twice, for 30 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Orange-Rutabaga Salad with Orange Vinaigrette


2 cups baby spinach, washed and dried with paper towels

2 oranges

1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced

1/3 cup raw rutabaga, thinly sliced or shaved on mandolin

Salad Dressing

1/2 teaspoon orange zest

2 tablespoons orange juice (fresh or frozen)

2 tablespoons extra light olive oil

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon low sodium salt (may be omitted)

1/4 teaspoon citrus pepper blend


Put spinach into salad bowl. Grate zest from orange until you have half a teaspoon. Cut the skin from oranges and cut into segments. Carefully remove the skin from the rutabaga with a sharp knife. Cut into matchstick slices or slice on mandolin.

Add the oranges, red onion and rutabaga to spinach. Combine salad dressing ingredients in a jar. Cover and shake until blended. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss gently. Makes 4 sevings.

Copyright 2007 by Harriet Hodgson


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