Mashed Rutabagas

by Julie Cohn

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Let’s talk vegetables for a second, okay?

Everyone loves carrots, string beans, and corn.  Then there is broccoli and asparagus, which most people (except George Bush) like.  Brussel Sprouts and spinach?  Some like it, others could do without.

But what about the  rutabaga?  The craggy, wrinkled,  purple/yellow turnip-like vegetable, known as the rutabaga, gets no respect.  People pass them by at the grocery store without a glance.  Most people have either never tried them, or don’t know how to make them.    They get left on the shelf to shrivel.

No more!  I am here to tell you that they are delicious!  Granted, I have never met a vegetable that I didn’t like-I love them all.  But there is a special place in my heart for the rutabaga.  They have an earthy tanginess that bites your tongue, kind of like a vegetable sweet tart.   They are sweet and bitter all at once.  And with butter on them?  Swoon!  Every year my Mom makes mashed rutabagas for Thanksgiving.  Now I make them for my family, and they are one of my favorite dishes!

Have you ever tried rutabagas?  If not, give them a try and let me know what you think!

  • 2-3 Rutabagas
  • 2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 stick Butter

Rutabagas look ugly, which is okay, but make certain that they are firm with a tight skin.  If they are soft and too wrinkled, they will be very bitter.

Cut off the ends, then cut the rutabaga in half, and peel off the outer skin.  The outside may be waxy, and that is okay too.  Do not use a vegetable peeler though–you need to using a paring knife to peel these tough little guys.  You will notice on the inside of the bulb, there is a thin yellowish-green line just inside the skin–peel up to that line around the whole vegetable (see the arrow).


When the rutabaga is peeled, cut into small 1-2 inch pieces, and place in a medium pot.


Add water to just cover the vegetable, and add salt.  (This is one vegetable that you really do need to use salt for when cooking, as the salt draws out the sweet tangy-ness of the vegetable.)  Heat to boiling,  then reduce to medium low, and continue to cook for 20-25 minutes.  The rutabaga is cooked when you stab a piece, and it is breakable and soft.  If it is still hard, continue to cook another 5 minutes or so.  Remove from the heat and drain the hot water.  Add butter and allow it to melt.  When the butter is almost melted, take a potato masher and mash the rutabaga until all the pieces are blended and very small.  Occasionally stir while you are mashing, to make certain every piece gets mashed.    You can use a portable electric mixer to finish off the mashing, but do not use a stand mixer, as it does not seem to mash it as well.  I actually prefer to hand mash it.  In the photo above, they were not mashed small-mine had several large chunks, (which I like), but they are sweeter tasting if they are mashed well with the butter.  You want it to be mashed potato texture.  Serve immediately, or warm before serving.
(Psst–Rutabagas are also great in beef soup!)

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