Because of its pungent, cabbage-like odor when prepared on the stove top, some cooks find rutabaga less than savory when working the large, bulbous root vegetable into a healthy eating plan. But if your goal is to introduce greater variety, more vitamins, more fiber and fewer calories into your diet plan, rutabagas qualify for another chance on your dinner plate. When you want to take advantage of rutabaga's relative low cost and high nutritional value, the oven-baked method of cooking reveals a surprisingly spicy-sweet flavor profile.
Arrange alternating slices of rutabaga and onion in a baking pan that has been coated with nonstick cooking spray to make a family-style casserole. Pour about 1/2 inch of chicken or vegetable broth in the pan to generate moist heat and infuse flavor as the rutabaga cooks. Season with generous pinches of nutmeg, salt and pepper, then bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes or until the rutabaga slices are completely soft when you insert a fork.
Soak french-fry-size strips of rutabaga for half an hour in cold water with 3 to 4 tablespoons of lemon juice stirred to make oven-baked rutabaga fries. Drain the water off and toss the strips with a couple tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil. Arrange the coated strips on a nonstick cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes or until the fries are a deep golden-brown color. Season the hot rutabaga fries with coarse salt and fresh-ground black pepper.
Place 1/2-inch cubes of rutabaga in the center of a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. For a savory side dish, sprinkle dried onion soup mix and 1 to 2 tablespoons of water over the cubes. For a sweeter-flavored dish, add a diced carrot, 1 to 2 tablespoons of pineapple juice and a pinch of salt. Fold the top and sides of the foil together to form a packet. Bake the rutabaga cubes at 400 degrees F for about 40 to 45 minutes.
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- Instead of nutmeg, sprinkle casserole-baked rutabagas with dried Italian herbs, minced garlic or smoked paprika, depending on your taste preferences.
- Rutabaga skin is coated with wax to retain moisture in the vegetable during long storage periods. The waxy coating and skin must be removed before exposing the rutabaga to heat.
Denise Schoonhoven has worked in the fields of acoustics, biomedical products, electric cable heating and marketing communications. She studied at Newbold College and Middlesex Polytechnic in the UK, and Walla Walla University. A writer since 2008, Schoonhoven is a seasoned business traveler, solo tourist, gardener and home renovator.