Friday, April 8, 2011

Rutabaga or Swede

Judy came home from the store the other day with a rutabaga. 
I've heard of rutabaga before, but never tried it, at least that I'm aware of. I saw it on the counter and my first impression was that it was a tamed version of celeriac
because it had a bit of a greenish tint and was a little hairy, but not as scary looking. It also looked quite a bit like a wild, unkempt turnip, particularly because of the purple tint on the top portion. 
The rutabaga is a cross between a cabbage and a turnip and it is also called a yellow turnip and swede or Swedish turnip. 
Rutabaga is the favored American and Canadian term and Swede is the usual term in England, Australia and New Zealand. It is also known as the neep in Scotland. In Scotland, rutabagas and potatoes are boiled and mashed separately to make neeps and tatties, tatties being the Scot word for potatoes. In Sweden and Norway, rutabagas are cooked with potatoes and carrots and mashed with butter and cream. 
It is hard for me to see where the cabbage comes into it, but the turnip "roots" are obvious. It has a bit of the turnip taste to it, but it is a little more flavorful, perhaps a tad bit more sweet, and it doesn't have the tinge of bitterness that turnip has. The texture is different as well, a little more crisp, like a jicama, but not that crisp. It is very yellow compared to a turnip and the tag "yellow turnip" is an obvious fit. Below, rutabaga and turnip, side by side.
In the last few weeks Judy and I have really grown to love roasted turnip. So we roasted some rutabaga and turnip and did a taste comparison. The turnip texture breaks down faster and gets soggier quicker. 
The rutabaga did not break down evenly. 
I liked the pieces best that were moist and soft. Some pieces were quite stiff after all of the turnip pieces were soft. I think Judy and I still prefer roasted turnip to roasted rutabaga, but I would loved to try it mashed with potatoes. 

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