Saturday morning began with a trip to the farmers market. I savory these visit because it is December and soon there will be snow on the ground and the market will be gone until springtime. As I walked pass the stands of roots and tubers I came across a bin of unwaxed rutabagas. Rutabagas are waxed in order to maintain their moisture and increase shelf life when stored in the refrigerator or in a cool place. I imagined this could only mean that the farmer was so confident that he was going to sell everything therefore he didn't bother with waxing them. They were fresh from the farm ready to consume. That is probably why they caught my eye. This would be the perfect side for roasted rack of lamb and sauteed green beans with hazel nut butter. Saturday nights dinner for two at its best.
Growing up we would have rutabaga once a year during the Holiday. They were cooked in render bacon and water; depending on which relative prepared them, they were sometimes mashed. As a child there weren’t many foods that I wouldn’t eat, so I ate the rutabaga as part of our holiday dinner. I will add however that I did not miss that vegetable from one year to the next.
Originally, from Eastern Europe, the rutabaga was often cooked like many vegetables prepared in the South--with a piece of pork. Although rich in vitamin C, vitamin B, calcium and potassium rutabaga's health benefits are often overshadowed by the way we prepare them. The tradition of cooking vegetables in pork continued in my family until I began cooking professionally.
Although I learned numerous ways of preparing the rutabaga, simply roasted with a little olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs is how I like them. Roasting rutabaga at 350F for one hour develops its sweetness and flavor.
The preparation is so simple I did not provide a recipe. Just toss in olive oil, thyme, garlic-salt and pepper to taste. Roast on a sheet pan for one hour at 350F. I have some problems with my oven. The heat is uneven therefore it browns food too quickly on the bottom; therefore, I roasted the turnips on a rack to prevent them from burning before they were fully cooked. If your oven is working properly this is not necessary.