Posted by: Kath Usitalo | November 3, 2009

Recipe File: In the Tank for Rutabaga

rutabaga 2_5407

Rutabaga: food or fuel? (Background art is a stool splatter painted by TJ)

It must have something to do with my Finnish roots, but I like rutabaga. The homely looking relative of turnip and cabbage is a staple in Finland, while here in the U.S. it doesn’t have the widespread appeal of say, Brussels sprouts.

Ownership of the humble rutabaga is—like language, cross-country skiing, and hockey—a source of rivaly between Finland and Sweden. Some insist that it originated in Finland, yet its name comes from the Swedish word rotabagge, and in many parts of the world it is known as a Swedish turnip or Swede.

Rutabaga by any name or ethnicity is an acquired taste—one that I acquired as a kid eating it mashed and in pasties, that Upper Peninsula take on the Cornish meat and vegetable pie. This is a favor I’ve passed along to our kids (and yes, Paige and Graham like rutabaga, too).

But because it is not the most popular crop on the farm it’s looking mighty attractive to some folks in East Lansing, where Michigan State University researchers are experimenting with the rutabaga as a source of biofuel. If it’s not being eaten it might as well power those trips to the market for the vegetable du jour, right?

I just don’t know if I can get used to paying for rutabaga by the gallon.

In the meantime we’ll continue to enjoy the root vegetable browned, in soups and pasties, and, as we did tonight:

Mashed Rutabaga

Peel and dice a rutabaga
Cover with cold water and cook until fork-tender
Drain, add to taste (amounts depend on size of rutabaga):
-a couple of tablespoons of butter
-a few tablespoons of Maple syrup
-coarse salt and pepper to taste

Mash and enjoy.
If you don’t enjoy, add more syrup, butter, or both.



  1. Yummy! I do love bagies! Except for peeling them and then I think I should get out the chainsaw! Well worth the work though. And rutabaga as art? Fabulous!

  2. Ahh, a woman after my own heart. Rutabaga rules!

  3. Last night we cut up rutubagas into french-fry-like strips, tossed them with 1 T olive oil and some sea salt and baked them in a hot oven til they were brown and crispy. So good! Love them, love them…

  4. Sounds delish. I’ll have to get out of my mashed rutabaga rut and try your recipe. Thanks!

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