March 2: Rutabagas

Rutabagas are the ideal late winter fare – they stay crisp and flavorful all winter long in farm root cellars. Not to be confused with their turnip cousins, rutabagas are sweeter, starchier and milder.  Their taste is appealingly earthy and nourishing, and their golden flesh has substance. Try tossing rutabaga cubes with oil and salt, and roasting until soft and caramelized. Or puree steamed rutabaga with butter and milk, topping with toasted nuts or grated parmesan for a special treat.

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Pureed rutabaga can be mixed with other starchy vegetables like potatoes, carrots and winter squash to add variety. Here is a simple recipe for Rutabaga and Potato Puree flavored with parsley and nutmeg. Red Fire Farm has a recipe for Coconut-Rutabaga-Carrot Mash on their “Deep Winter Recipes” web page, which also includes lots of other great recipes for cooking with local winter produce.

For a slightly fancier dish (though still easy to prepare), here is a recipe forRutabaga and Greens Frittata. Rutabaga can also be enjoyed freshly grated, as a topping or mixed with other ingredients. For inspiration, here is a recipe for Grated Rutabaga and Potato Salad.

Also check out this “Ode to Rutabaga” from the blog of Alchemy Gardens in Rutland, VT, which convincingly sings the praises of rutabagas and includes some interesting rutabaga facts, and recipes like Mexican Rutabaga and Sweet Potato.