ITEM OF THE WEEK : Rutabagas

A rutabaga – also known as a “yellow turnip,” “Swedish turnip,” or “swede”– is a type of root vegetable believed to have originated in Scandinavia or Russia. Thought to be a cross between a turnip and wild cabbage, rutabagas are sometimes confused with turnips since they share a similar size and mottled purple color. Once sliced open, however, there’s no mistaking a rutabaga – thanks to its creamy yellow flesh that is rich in beta carotene! Best known in northern Europe, rutabagas helped many people survive food shortages in World Wars I and II, and have long been grown as a food crop that can make it through the winter. In the Northeast, rutabagas are grown in the late summer and fall, then placed in storage for the wintertime.
 
Fun Facts:

* The waxy coating outside the peel is a layer of food-grade paraffin that farmers add to prevent the rutabaga from drying out. Wash and peel well.
* Kept in a fridge drawer, rutabagas will last about a month.
* Try raw, or cook 1-inch chunks by steaming (30-35 minutes), boiling (20-25 minutes), or baking (40-45 minutes at 400 degrees F).
* Add a golden color to your mashed potatoes by mashing rutabagas in!
 



 

RECIPE: Baked Rutabaga Fries

Potato fries, move over! These rutabaga fries have a warm flavor that’s just a touch sweet, but not as starchy or sugary as fries from white or sweet potatoes.

Ingredients: 
* 1-2 medium rutabagas
* Olive oil
* Garlic powder, paprika, or your spice blend of choice
* Kosher salt for sprinkling

Directions: 
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Peel rutabagas with a paring knife and slice in ½-inch sticks or ¼-inch rounds.
3. Drizzle olive oil over the pieces, place in a paper or plastic bag, add spices, and shake to coat.
4. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes.
5. Turn pieces over and cook for another 10 minutes, or until well-browned.
6. Sprinkle with kosher salt and serve with ketchup or other dipping sauces.

-- Thanks to "Savoring the Seasons" for recipe inspiration and photo!