Friday, March 11, 2011

What to Do with a Rutabaga

Given the regular appearance of roots vegetables in our CSA box, it's odd that we haven't had any rutabagas until now. I'm thrilled that this lovely vegetable (aka swede) with a beautiful yellow-orange color and a flavor that's a sweeter cross between between cabbage and turnips was included in today's bounty.

Anything you do with a turnip, you can do with a rutabaga. You can boil it, mash it, or roast it. You can even make oven-baked fries - they're delicious.

My favorite way to eat rutabaga is mashed with lots of butter and salt. Peel away the tough outer skin. Chop into medium to large chunks. Put the chunks in a pot of salted water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook until tender. Drain well. Mash. If the rutabag has retained excess water, you can return the mash to the same pot and boil it off. Otherwise, add butter, salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy.

A close second to mashed rutabaga for me is oven roasted. Peel and chop into desired shapes. I like to make thick julienne. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast in a 375 degree oven until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The time will vary depending on how thick you've chopped your rutabaga. Some people like to par-boil the rutabaga until nearly tender before roasting. You might like to toss red pepper flakes and/or chopped fresh parsley on the roasted rutabaga before serving.

It's probably no accident that rutabagas turned up right before St. Patrick's Day. They're a wonderful addition to the traditional meal of boiled corned beef and cabbage. If you start with a beef brisket that has already been "corned," or cured in brine, follow the directions on the package or put the beef in a pot with water. I like to add a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar and cider vinegar, a bay leaf, 1 minced clove of garlic, some freshly ground pepper, and a little allspice (as well as any seasoning packet that might come with the corned beef). Cover and simmer until nearly tender. This could take 2 to 2-1/2 hours for a 3 pound corned beef.

When the corned beef is nearly tender, add 1 coarsely chopped onion, 1 lb of peeled potatoes, 1 C peeled carrots chunks, and 1 rutabaga peeled and cut into large chunks. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Then add 1 small cabbage, cored and cut into large wedges or chunks. Cover and simmer 15 minutes more. By now the corned beef should be fork tender. Remove from the heat. Let sit about 10 minutes. Then slice the meat and serve with the boiled vegetables. A chewy, grainy bread and some nice mustard are excellent accompaniments.

This week's box included:

From Underwood Family Farms: Japanese turnips, red chard, butter lettuce, fennel, 5# navel oranges, purple carrots, purple kale, celery root, French Breakfast radishes, and rutabagas.

Rancho Santa Cecilia proivded Hass avocados and satsuma mandarins.

From Silver Lake Farms: Pea shoots.



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