Category Archives: rutabaga

Turnips and Rutabaga with Peanut Sauce

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These are the items I have the most trouble using, so I’m going to assume it’s the same for you.

Most of the time I’ve just been roasting them in with other root vegetables, which is honestly a very good use. If you’re roasting a chicken, throw some chopped turnips in the bottom of the pan and they’ll soak up all the juices and be delicious. This particular use allows the actual turnip and rutabaga flavors (yep, they’re there and tasty, with the right accoutrements) to shine.

Before I get into sauces, though, I want to share some things. The first is that my last winter CSA share came last week. More turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, carrots, beets, cabbage, potatoes, garlic, onions, potatoes, squash. These are part of the “Maine Local Twenty” food products that are available all year long. By February, most of us are getting a little sick of winter, myself included. We have to keep finding new ways to use these same ingredients (not to mention new places to put snow). Fortunately, we have a little hope: the days are getting longer, seed catalogues are flying around everywhere, and many farms are signing people up for summer CSAs, encouraging us to dream about strawberries, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

There was a recent article in the Huffington Post about how CSAs help farms and deliberates a little on other models. Basically, you get to connect with a specific farm, and that creates a deeper connection to your community, the natural world, and enables you to actually understand what it takes to produce food. MOFGA has the best list that I’ve found of CSAs in Maine; if you live elsewhere you’ll have to do your own research. Actually, there are a few CSA fairs coming up soon, if you want to check out your potential farmers in person.

On another note, Nathanael Johnson of Grist (who I really like, by the way, and you should read all his things)  just finished up his series of posts “Hungry Hungry Humans” exploring how we can feed the world into the future. His latest post synthesizes some of those discoveries. It’s definitely worth reading, but here’s a few tidbits about how we can feed the world: 1) Improve the lives of poor women and children, 2) Sustainable intensification through agroecology (this means more small farms), 3) Invest in infrastructure like roads, 4) Find new ways to provide capital/investment to those who need it. And of course 5) YOU can change your diet—eat less, less meat, and waste less. And find a good lentil recipe.

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Okay, this isn’t a lentil recipe and I know I didn’t plan that right. But it is a vegetable recipe and one that you tend to eat slowly, which means you’ll consume less. So.

I also did the thing again where my mixing vessel was really not big enough for the things I was putting it in. You’d think I’d learn.

Rutabagas and turnips with peanut sauce
Rutabagas and turnips
Olive oil and salt

Sauce:
Peanut butter (your main ingredient, start with 1/4 cup or so. I like crunchy but it's up to you)
Soy sauce (a few teaspoons—you can always add more)
Miso (optional—a small teaspoon or so)
Lemon/lime juice or rice vinegar (substitute apple cider vinegar if you have none)
Minced ginger (a small knob)
Minced garlic (a clove)
Honey (a few drizzles)
Minced chiles, chile flakes, or a little cayenne

Peel and chop the roots into 3/4 (ish)-inch cubes. Roast with some salt and oil in a hot (350ºF or so, it doesn’t matter too much here) oven, or if you’re tired of roasting things, sauté in a pan with a little oil for a few minutes, adding water and covering for a bit to get them all the way soft as necessary.

Meanwhile, stir together the sauce. The nice thing about this kind of condiment is that it’s very forgiving. You can add a little of this, a little of that, taste, adjust, eat half of it, make a new version, whatever. I added a lot of ginger and probably too much soy sauce to start, but with a little more peanut butter it all evens out. Add water if you want it to be saucier, or put it in a blender to make it smooth.

When your root veggies are soft, whichever way you’ve cooked them, dip them in the sauce and enjoy.

You can put this kind of sauce on whatever. I fried some tofu the next day and dipped that in the sauce along with root veggies for lunch; and actually the inspiration came from some friends making this for noodles a few weeks ago, mixed in with veggies, etc., for a giant dinner pot. Delicious.

Don’t forget to look at some local CSAs!

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Rutabaga Caponata

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So I had some deliberation on whether to use this title because caponata doesn’t mean much to most people. In fact I had a hard time remembering the term myself. But, we all need to learn new things, right?

Ordinarily, I now understand, caponata is an eggplant dish. Not having made the original version, I have nothing to compare this with. However, I can tell you that Wikipedia’s description is fairly apt, a sweet and sour vegetable dish that could be used as either a side or main. It’s pretty exciting and has interesting flavors that I would probably never think to put together on my own. Always looking for new rutabaga outlets, I came across this recipe from Saveur and I think it’s a keeper. It should end up sweet but hearty—the flavor of the rutabaga plays nicely with the array of spices.

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I’ll have to try the eggplant version sometime.

On another note, I broke ANOTHER paring knife. That one in the picture, actually. It’s got a good core but part of the stone piece fell off. I’ll have to find the right adhesive material. I guess maybe I am overusing them, because my larger knife feels a little flimsy and anyway mostly I’m just cooking for me, which doesn’t generally require too much knife power. Except that apparently it does. Ah, well.

Saveur's Rutabaga Caponata
2 rutabagas
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 onion, diced
A couple cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons currants (I didn't have these but they'd be good)
1 tablespoon golden raisins
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts (you keep them around now, right?)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or a little cayenne if you don't have them)
A small spoonful of honey
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
A dash of nutmeg
A tablespoon of cocoa

Start by roasting the rutabaga. Rutabaga is friendlier than squash to chop quickly, although it does have quite a thick peel that takes a little practice. Anyway, peel (with a knife) and chop into 1/2-inch cubes. Drizzle with oil and bake in a hot oven (around 400ºF) for 30 or so minutes, turning over every once in a while, until soft but not mushy.

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Chop the rest of the veggies. Heat up oil in the pan and cook the onions first, then when they begin to soften add in garlic, shallots, currants, and raisins. Then add the vinegar, and scrape the pan (deglaze) to collect anything that might have gotten stuck. Add the pine nuts and spices, going easy on the honey and cocoa until you taste it, and adjust as necessary.

I ate it with some water buffalo sausage, because I felt like, but it’s also perfectly acceptable as a main course by itself.

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In other news, the just 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released a new report detailing diet suggestions for the American populace. You can read the Executive Summary if you don’t want to get into the whole thing. Basically, though, we need to be eating more vegetables, less red meat, and considerably less sugar. If you are surprised by this, I’m glad you’re here, because you have some indoctrination in store. It’s getting harder in the winter, though. Hence the rutabagas.

If you have great (read: varied) recipes for winter vegetables (turnips, cabbage, carrots, beets, potatoes), send them my way!