Rooting for Rutabaga

Do you know the difference between a turnip and a rutabaga? If not, you aren’t alone! Most of us in North America use the two phrases interchangeably without even realizing it. If you’ve ever spent any time in the UK, you know that they use the correct terms for these two root veggies. It’s understandable why the two vegetables are confused. The rutabaga actually started out as a cross between a cabbage and a turnip!

Now, time for your lesson.

Those large round, tan-colored root vegetables with the purple ring around the top? Those are rutabagas.

Turnips are smaller and white in color, with a small bit of purple around the top. Whatever you call it, the rutabaga is one of those faithful old standby vegetables. Easily found almost anywhere, rutabagas are cheap, nutritious, and versatile.

If you’re scrunching up your nose at the thought of eating rutabagas, there’s a good chance you just haven’t yet found a way to prepare them that suits your taste buds!

Raw rutabagas are sweet and crispy. Great diced into a salad, rutabaga is a great way to change things up.

Cooked rutabagas take on a mild, bitter taste that makes this root veggie a great accompaniment to all kinds of dishes. I personally adore rutabagas in a pot of soup. They’re also excellent baked (rutabaga fries!) or mashed with sweet potatoes.

Rutabagas are packed with fiber, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorous. You can get more than half your daily recommended amount of Vitamin C from a cup of rutabaga. Rutabaga is a sulfur veggie, with tons of cancer-preventing potential.

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9 Responses

  1. Rutabaga was one of the corner stones in my families Mulligan (beef) stew. At holiday meals a mixture of half carrot and half rutabaga mashed together (like mashed potatoes) with butter and milk to desired consistency (season as wished) was a needed and signature dish. (Hint: If you try this boil the carrots and rutabaga separately, then combine. The have different cooking rates.)
    Unfortunately, my partner does not like them…
    Thank you for reminding me of one of my favorite vegetables!

  2. Dear Leanne,
    I got your Menu Mailer for several years, until I filled a couple of binders with recipes. I still enjoy many of the recipes. Thank you.
    I love that you are featuring one of my favorite veggies, rutabaga. Perhaps it is my Scandinavian-on-one-side heritage, but I’ve always loved rutabagas, especially mashed with butter. Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without them. A friend who lived in Norway for a couple of years says they call them Norwegion Oranges there because of the vitamin C content.
    Rutabagas chunks are especielly good in a hearty beef and onion stew.
    You have just inspired me. I.Need.To.Buy.Rutabagas.Today!
    –Jill Miller

  3. I grew up and never heard them called anything but Swedes. We had them cooked in chunks in stews, and also mashed with butter. Love them! When we had them for supper we often had them and no potatoes, just mashed Swedes, veg. and meat.

  4. My Dad was Irish and he called rutabagas “Swede” also. My Mom used to boil diced rutabaga and carrots together and mash them with a bit of butter. Yummy!

  5. Hi have never heard it called a rutabaga EVER am from the UK and that veg has ALWAYS (for over 60 years anyway) been called a SWEDE. we tend to peel, cut into small cubes, boil, then mash with butter and seasoning. yummy. x

  6. In Scotland we’ve always called the American rutabaga, or the English swede, a turnip. It’s what Scots always used to carve out to make a lantern at Halloween before the children went guising. Thankfully in the shops these days can be found pumpkins, which are much easier to carve for our children than my parents found turnips ever were.
    Though turnips could be strung with twine to make them easy for kids to carry round with them whereas pumpkins would be too large – but that’s the only advantage I can find!

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