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Make a New Friend: Rutabaga
Right Food for the Season - Late Winter
Written by Michelle Collins   


The first time I laid eyes on a rutabaga, my first thought was: What the heck is that thing?  It looked nothing short of intimidating, not to mention impossible to cut into.

Rutabaga (or “yellow turnip”) is a root vegetable that originated as a cross between cabbage and the turnip. The flavor of rutabaga, once cooked, is slightly sweet, soft and delicious with potatoes or carrots. A delicious way to enjoy rutabaga with its potato companion is in a comforting, easy-to-make gratin. However, before you can even cook a rutabaga, you need to know how to get inside the thing.

Here’s a simple way to prepare a rutabaga:


1. Peel the skin off the rutabaga with a sharp vegetable peeler. Discard skins.

2. To chop the rutabaga (for a gratin), start by cutting off the “stems” on each side of the root vegetable.

3. Then, with a very sharp butcher’s knife, slice the rutabaga in half, lengthwise.

4. Cut into ¼-inch, half moon-shaped slices.

For the gratin, the ingredients and method are even easier (not to mention tastier). 


Rutabaga and Sweet Potato Gratin

Yields: 4 servings


1 large rutabaga, peeled and cut into ¼-inch slices

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into ¼-inch slices

1/4 cup diced white onion

1/8 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

3/4 cup vegetable broth + 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (or use 1/8 cup white wine)

1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated

Dried rosemary

Cayenne pepper

Salt and black pepper


To build the gratin, arrange the rutabaga and sweet potato slices in a single layer at the bottom of a greased, square baking dish. Season with salt, pepper, a little dried rosemary, and some of the flour. Repeat for three more layers, seasoning with salt, pepper, rosemary and sprinkling with flour between each layer.

Dot the top layer with the 1 tbsp. of butter (divided), and season with some cayenne pepper (season to your liking). Slowly pour the broth and lemon juice mixture into the dish.

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in a 350 degree oven until the vegetables are tender (about 45 minutes).

Remove baking dish from oven and increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Remove the foil, and sprinkle the Gruyere cheese over the top layer. Bake until the cheese is golden and bubbly – about 15 minutes.

Let the gratin sit for 5 minutes before serving. 

The end result: A luxurious, comforting gratin filled with warming winter flavors. The sweet, tender rutabaga meshes beautifully with the soft, even sweeter potatoes, while the vegetable broth and salty cheese help mellow out the vegetables’ sweetness. This gratin is perfect served with a toasted slice of Nashoba Brook Bakery’s Rosemary Garlic bread and a simple side salad. 

Have you ever cooked with rutabaga? What’s your favorite recipe?




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