9 Surprisingly Simple Ways To Eat Rutabaga—The Cancer-Fighting, Low-Carb Alternative To Potatoes

Rutabaga might be hella gnarly looking, but it’s a nutritional powerhouse.

February 1, 2017
rutabagas
Michaelpuche/shutterstock

Winter is the best time of year to eat rutabaga—but why, you might ask, would you want to? Startlingly large and sort of dumpy-looking, with a purple top and beige bottom, rutabagas may not look very alluring, but there’s a lot more to this winter vegetable than meets the eye. (Here are 8 things you should never eat in February.)

Underneath its woody-looking exterior, rutabaga’s butter-yellow flesh is sweet and earthy. Rutabagas are the result of some promiscuous turnips crossing with wild cabbages in the 1600s, and while they contain the genes of both veggies, they’re considered a part of the cruciferous family of vegetables (cousins include broccoli and Brussels sprouts) and pack similar health benefits. (And here are the 9 healthiest foods you can eat in winter.)

Rutabagas contain phytochemicals, such as sulforaphane, that help the liver remove carcinogens and other toxins from the body, as well as cancer-fighting antioxidants—1 cup of rutabaga contains 50 percent of the daily value of vitamin C.  (Here are 5 ways to eat more immune-boosting vitamin C.) They’re also rich in beta-carotene, potassium, and a good source of fiber, thiamin, and manganese.  Low in calories and nutrient-dense, rutabagas can be a particularly useful ingredient if you are trying to lose weight. (They’re also a reliable garden crop: Here’s how to grow the perfect turnip.)

If you’ve never cooked with it before, the first thing you need to know is that rutabagas from the grocery store are usually sold coated in paraffin wax to keep them from drying out in storage. You’ll definitely want to remove it before cooking with them. Peeling a waxed rutabaga can feel like trying to peel a greased bowling ball, so to make it easier, first slice off the stem and root ends with a chef’s knife to create a stable base.  Then stand the root upright and remove the skin with the knife, working from top-to-bottom.

Here’s what that looks like:

Once that waxed exterior is removed, you can start cooking. Here, 9 of our favorite ways to eat rutabaga.

(Slash your cholesterol, burn stubborn belly fat, solve your insomnia, and more—naturally!—with Rodale's Eat For Extraordinary Health & Healing!)

mashed rutabagas
1/9
Buttery Mashed Rutabagas

One of the simplest, and tastiest ways to eat rutabagas is just to cube, boil, and mash them with plenty of butter. Unlike potatoes, which can get gluey if you mash them overzealously, there’s no danger of overdoing it with rutabaga. If you want them really smooth, you can throw them in the food processor. 

veggie noodles
2/9 thefoodphotographer/shutterstock
Rutabaga Noodles

Your spiralizer is good for so much more than zucchini! To make low-carb rutabaga pasta, run rutabaga through a spiralizer. You can eat them raw, but they’re lovely baked into a casserole. Try then tossing them with olive oil and herbs, or transform into a gooey, rutabaga-noodle casserole. (Get even more out of your spiralizer with 7 Things You Can Make With a Spiralizer Besides Veggie Pasta.)

rutabaga gratin
3/9
Rutabaga Gratin

Especially if you have a nightshade sensitivity and can’t eat potatoes, try making a creamy rutabaga gratin: thinly slice rutabaga, layer in a buttered cast-iron pan, pour hot cream over, sprinkle with Gruyere, and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. (Love cooking in your cast-iron pan? Here’s more Stuff That Tastes Better When Cooked in Cast Iron.)

rutabaga hasselback
4/9 Patrycja Nowak/shutterstock
Rutabagas Hasselback

In this riff on potatoes hasselback, a single rutabaga is cut into thin slices but left joined at the bottom, then baked and basted with melted butter until the slices are bronzed and crispy. I love this recipe for rutabagas hasselback, which includes slices of red onion and garlic between each rutabaga wedge for extra flavor. 

spice cake
5/9 Frances van der Merwe/shutterstock
Rutabaga Spice Cake

Think carrot cake, but lighter, with a honey-colored crumb. If you have food sensitivities, try this marvelously dense, dairy- and gluten-free rutabaga spice cake,  or this rather dairy- and flour-intensive version of rutabaga spice cake with browned-butter icing.

Related: 3 Classic Fall Desserts Without All The Sugar 

rutabaga fries
6/9 My Lit'l Eye/shutterstock
Rutabaga Oven Fries

Rutabaga also makes superb oven-fries: toss rutabaga spears in in fat (olive oil, coconut oil, or even bacon fat or beef tallow) along with salt and seasonings of your choice (try this recipe for rutabaga fries with garlic powder, dried thyme, and cayenne), then roast at 425F for 30 minutes. 

rutabaga and cheese soup
7/9 CatchaSnap/shutterstock
Rutabaga and Cheddar Cheese Soup

Rutabagas are cousin to broccoli, and they make a fine stand-in for that vegetable in this rich, cheesy rutabaga and cheddar soup.  Try adding a glug of beer in there for good measure. (For more tasty ways to use beer in the kitchen, see 10 Things You Can Do With Leftover Beer.)

raw salad
8/9 13Smile/shutterstock
Raw Rutabaga Salad

Rutabaga can be delicious raw. You can shave or grate early-season (late fall) roots and use immediately; for roots that have been in storage a little toss them with vinegar and olive oil and let sit 15 minutes before serving, as in this Asian-inspired shaved rutabaga and scallion salad.  (For more delicious salads that showcase winter’s best produce, try these Healthy Winter Salads.)

roasted rutabaga
9/9 DPRM/shutterstock
Roasted Rutabaga

Roasted rutabaga is an easy weeknight side dish. Cube rutabaga and toss in olive oil with salt on a sheet pan. Roast at 425F for 30 minutes. Add maple syrup and fresh thyme to accentuate rutabaga’s sweetness.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Comments