Rutabaga au gratin

Sep 29, 2008 at 2:00 a.m. ET

Though not immensely popular, the rutabaga is actually a good substitute for potatoes when you want something a little different. This recipe for rutabaga au gratin is cheesy and delicious.

Rutabaga

Rutabaga au gratin

Ingredients

  • 6 Tbsp melted butter (divided)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 cups rutabagas (diced)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs

Directions

  1. Peel and diced rutabagas. Boil until tender but not mushy.
  2. Combine 4 tablespoons of butter and flour in saucepan over low heat.
  3. Stir constantly while heating for 2 minutes.
  4. Gradually add milk, stirring until smooth and thick.
  5. Add cheese and seasonings, stirring until cheese thoroughly melted.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  7. Lightly grease a 2 quart casserole dish.
  8. Place rutabagas in the bottom and top with sauce.
  9. Combine bread crumbs with remaining melted butter and sprinkle on top of casserole.
  10. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Rutabaga history

The rutabaga, or Swede turnip as it is known outside the United States, is a root vegetable that resulted from crossing the turnip and the cabbage. Originally thought to have come from Sweden, it is now believed that the rutabaga was introduced to Sweden by way of Finland or Siberia around the 17th century.

RutabagasAlthough being rich in nutrients, the rutabaga has had a troubled history. During WWII it was used largely as the food of last resort. Due to its ability to thrive in cold weather, people in Europe were forced to eat rutabagas and little else due mainly to failed crops and the effects of war. For this reason, the rutabaga has garnered the reputation of "famine food" and is rarely planted in Europe even to this day. Furthermore, even though the rutabaga has been grown and marketed in the U.S. for almost two hundred years it remains an uncommon food in American cuisine.

Rutabaga preparation

There are quite a lot of ways to prepare rutabagas. They can be boiled, roasted, steamed, mashed, stewed or even stir-fried. You can cook them with potatoes, roasted or mashed together. They can be used to enhance the taste of stews or soups.

Rutabagas can also be consumed raw. By peeling them and eating them as a snack or by chopping, grating and adding them to a salad of your choice.

More about rutabaga

The rutabaga plant has many different useful qualities. For example, livestock readily graze on its stems, leaves and roots. In fact, the above ground parts are 20-25% percent crude protein as well as 65-80% percent total digestible nutrients. In addition to this, rutabagas can be eaten during periods of time when other crops can't, mainly due to its ability to withstand freezing temperatures while maintaining its nutritional quality and taste.

Rutabagas store extremely well. They can be preserved in a refrigerator for up to a month and up to four months in the freezer. Rutabagas are available year-round.

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