Ingredient of the Week: Rutabaga

Categories: The Basics

What is it?
It's the root of a vegetable that is essentially a turnip/cabbage hybrid. The actual term "rutabaga" comes from the Swedish word "rotabagge," which translates to "root bag." Luckily, it tastes better than it sounds.

First plantings of rutabaga in America came around the early 1800s in Illinois, where they thrived in the cooler climate.

Interestingly, rutabagas release cyanide, which is detoxified into thiocyanate - which renders it completely harmless for eating. This same chemical can cause people with a certain gene to find rutabaga so bitter that it is inedible. Thankfully, I do not fall into that category.

Rutabagas will last up to one month in the refrigerator.

How is it used?
Rutabagas can be used in place of potatoes, or in conjunction with them (mashing the two together is a common combination). Popular ways of preparation include roasting, baking, boiling or adding to soups, stews and raw in salads and slaws.

Where can I buy it?
Any grocery store in the city.

Easy Mashed Rutabagas: Courtesy of

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Rutabaga is really good roasted at 375 for 40 minutes to an hour, you can peel it and cut it into chunks, toss with a little oil and some salt. It's also good cooked with a mixture of Indian spices: cumin, turmeric, ginger, fenugreek, cinnamon, cardamom, and turned into a soup lightened with coconut milk and lime juice.


Rutabaga! (Or, if you're a fan of Carl Sandburg or awesome college jazz, Rootabaga.) Figures Illinois would be the first place it was planted in the US.


I shall be making that in the near future. Thanks for the recipe! Going vegan for 40 days in the next week, so that is a perfect start to my adventure.

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