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Seasonal Eats: 5 Recipes for Rutabagas

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Rutabagas at the Hollywood Farmer's Market (Heather Parlato/LAist)
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Call me a bad Swede (I'm only one-quarter anyway) but I've never even had a rutabaga until this week, when I wandered over to one of my farmers' market sellers to ponder this turnip-like root vegetable.

Rutabagas are actually related to turnips, originally created by crossing turnips with cabbages. As a hearty root vegetable, rutabagas are often used alongside potatoes, turnips and other roasting vegetables. They have a sweetness similar to sweet potatoes, and are a nice treat to slice up and eat raw, with a flavor close to raw sweet potato. When selecting yours, the rule of thumb is: the smaller, the sweeter, and stick with smooth, unblemished roots (the ones shown in the photo above are a little rough around the edges).

As far as cooking, they can be mashed, baked, boiled or roasted and used similar to sweet potatoes, though cooked rutabagas are both sweet and bitter, which may limit their use for most tastes. Cooked rutabaga does well with its root vegetable cousins, and with seasonings like vinegar, ginger, and chili pepper to expand its flavor, and dairy to soften the bitterness. With a glycemic load of 4, rutabagas are a good source of Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium and Phosphorous, and a very good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin C, Potassium and Manganese.

5 recipes for rutabagas: