How to Pick, Prep, and Cook With Rutabaga

Curious about this cruciferous veggie? The mildly peppery rutabaga bears a family resemblance to the turnip, which has a sharper bite. Here's how to pick, prep, and cook with it right now.
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The mildly peppery rutabaga bears a family resemblance to the turnip, which has a sharper bite; both belong to the cruciferous clan, whose members include broccoli and cabbage.

Pick
Choose rutabagas that are heavy for their size and free of soft spots or sprouts; naturally occurring crevices around the top are normal. In stores, rutabagas are often coated in a food-grade wax to reduce dehydration and prolong shelf life. For a better guarantee of freshness, Sharon Funderburk of Beartrack Farm in Turkey, N.C., suggests seeking out unwaxed rutabagas at farmers’ markets. Rutabagas will last up to six months when stored in a cool, dark, slightly damp place like a root cellar or unheated garage. “They can also be stored in your fridge crisper, in a plastic bag with some ventilation to discourage sprouting,” Funderburk says.

Prep
Trim the ends and remove the skin with a sharp vegetable peeler. “Chunks of rutabaga can be steamed or boiled, then mashed 
just like potatoes,” says Funderburk. Roasting elevates the veggie’s natural sweetness. Rutabaga also can be enjoyed raw, grated into 
salads or slaws. Rutabagas’ mild-tasting green tops are perfectly edible, but should be stored separately from their roots, Funderburk advises.

Try This
• Combine shredded rutabaga, flour, and eggs; form into patties, pan-fry, and top with apple chutney.

• Thinly slice rutabaga, 
and stir-fry until crisp and tender; toss with cooked pasta, sliced pear, and baby kale.

• Toss together chopped rutabaga, grapeseed oil, maple syrup, salt, and cayenne; roast until tender.

• Simmer together rutabaga cubes, chopped carrot, and sliced leeks; purée with fresh oregano and chipotle chile pepper for a smoky-tasting soup.

• Steam rutabaga until tender, and whip with butter, Dijon mustard, and orange zest.

• Grate together rutabaga, celery root, and carrot; toss with raisins and a honey vinaigrette for a slaw.

• Julienne rutabaga, toss with za’atar spice mixture, and bake until crisp and tender for veggie fries.

What's your favorite way to cook with rutabagas? Share in the comments!