Cow food.


Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

“I’ve finally done it!” I exclaimed. “I have come up with a great rutabaga dish.”

“No you haven’t,” replied my husband Jason. “Rutabagas are cow feed and taste terrible.”

Poor rutabaga, these beautiful, orange-topped root vegetables are a country-mouse-cousin of the turnip. Probably originating in the Netherlands, rutabaga is a naturally-occuring hybrid between the cabbage and the turnip (there will be a test on this later). The creamsicle orange flesh is coarse and sports the bitter, sharp taste common to many of its relatives in the mustard family.

Each fall they arrive at the farm market, covered in a daunting, natural waxy coating, just as fall favorites like apples, squash and cauliflower have lost the shine of newness. And each fall I try to cook them in an interesting new way: steamed then glazed, mashed, boiled or roasted. The results are always good, but never better. My valiant struggle to create a great rutabaga dish has failed. Until now.

Maybe the inspiration I needed was a return to the farm market at the end of this year’s long, harsh winter. With fields too cold for spring vegetables, I grabbed what I could: root vegetables stored through the winter. Boiled with leeks, garlic and potatoes until truly tender, I passed the rutabaga through a food mill. The sharp taste had mellowed with cooking, bleu cheese cut through the starch, and a little butter made them rich. Parsley brightened them.

Thrilled with my success I plated and proudly presented them to Jason. Who hates bleu cheese. And loves mashed potatoes.

“Why would you do this to mashed potatoes?” he cried.

Just ignore him. They’re delicious.

Bleu Mashed Rutabaga And Potato

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 large Eva or Russet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1” cubes*
  • 1 large rutabaga, peeled and cut in ½” cubes*
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 leeks
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 1 ½ cups firm bleu cheese**
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom

*Rutabaga takes longer to cook than potato, so cut the rutabaga in cubes half the size of the potato.

**DC has a new creamery, Sona. I grabbed a beautiful, nutty, Vermont bleu cheese called Bayley Hazen to test this recipe. Then I grabbed some more just to eat.

Directions:

  • Place potatoes, rutabaga and garlic in a stockpot and cover with water along with 1 tbs salt.
  • Remove top greens from leeks (you can save them for stock). Quarter and rinse white part. Roughly chop and add to cooking water.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about ½ hour or until soft.
  • Press rutabaga and potato mixture through the medium disc of a food mill or ricer, into a medium bowl.
  • Stir butter and bleu cheese into warm, milled vegetables. Add parsley and cardamom.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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