Winter Vegetables: Root Vegetables Swede or Rutabaga
Rutabaga or Swede
Autumn and winter mean that there are less fresh vegetables in season. Imported summer vegetables are expensive in the supermarket. Fortunately, nature’s bounty includes root vegetables. These hardy vegetables with their tough skins stored well, without electricity, and lasted our ancestors all winter. These hardy and useful vegetables have lost favour in recent years, mainly because people have forgotten how to cook them properly. English readers may well have been sickened for life by school dinner memories of watery Swede (rutabaga, neeps, or turnip), badly cooked carrots, turnips, and parsnips, but there is no connection between these tasty vegetables and those awful memories. Root vegetables can be tasty, nourishing and cheap, a very important consideration in these difficult economic times.
Making the best of seasonal root vegetables can help you to stretch your grocery budget. Swede, or rutabaga (turnip or neeps for Scots), the large roundish root vegetable with orange flesh, even boiled and mashed, need not be watery. Peel the Swede, or rutabaga, thickly, cut it in thin slices and boil it until soft, drain well and then mash with a knob of butter and some pepper, some people like a sprinkle of nutmeg. You can add chopped fried onion to the mashed Swede or, do what the Scots do and mash it with potatoes for ‘Neeps and Tatties’.
You do not have to boil Swede, or rutabaga, cut it in smaller pieces than you would roast potatoes, because it is denser, and takes longer to cook, and roast the Swede pieces with roast potatoes. The taste is completely different to boiled Swede.
You can use Swede in various ways, to create side dishes or main courses. You can use a selection of vegetables, including Swede, to make a hearty winter soup. For a different accompanying dish, try this one,
A pound and a half of Swedes peeled and diced,
8oz carrots peeled and sliced,
a little salt,
1 oz butter, 2 tablespoons milk,
1 x 7oz can of sweet corn,
Ground black pepper,
Three large sliced tomatoes
Cook Swede and carrot together in boiling salted water until tender drain well and mash beat in half the butter, the milk and the sweet corn, salt, and pepper.
Put into a 2-pint dish and arrange the sliced tomato over the top. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs, dot with butter. Put under a preheated high grill, until crisp brown topping forms.
You can prepare this dish in advance, allow it to cool. Then warm it in a preheated oven 180C, 350F, or Gas mark 4 for 30 minutes.
This dish could make a tasty lunch or supper.
Root vegetables may seem humble in comparison to other more glamorous vegetables, but they sustained our ancestors through thousands of winters. They may not be flashy, but they are nourishing, filling, and cheap in autumn and winter. However, root vegetables do not have to be boring, even the much despised Swede or rutabaga can be tasty and interesting too.