Spicing Up Stale

March 22, 2008 at 9:30 am 12 comments

Rutabaga with daisy 

I’ll just come out with it.

This eating locally in winter is getting a little stale. 


I said it.


As Barbara Kingsolver noted in her Animal Vegetable Miracle memoirs, March is the leanest of months for those of us interested in eating seasonally and locally.  According to Kingsolver, Native Americans actually referred to March as “hungry month”.  You’d think March would be bright and fresh, what with it being the beginning of spring.  But the problem is, you plant in the spring, but you don’t harvest much until summer.  Granted, there are a few things on their way that I can’t wait to gobble up…asparagus, for one!


So it is that March is, in my experience, full of root vegetables with skins that have wrinkled as their moisture evaporated while being stored over the winter and the slim pickings of frozen and dried preserves, namely tomatillo sauce in my case.  Why I ever thought I’d use that much frozen tomatillo sauce, heavens only know…

Rutabaga chunks

This is an awful lot of lamenting for someone who actually has something wonderful and delicious to talk about.  Remember that revolution I talked about a ways back?  No?  Come on, people, you should have been working on your signs and chants all these months!  Viva la Rutabaga Revolution!!!

Cooked rutabaga

I have really come to adore rutabagas amongst the slim pickings of spring.  They really just seem fresh, even after sitting around for four or five months.  I think in part it’s their lovely orange color in dishes that does the trick.  This sunset hue is also what made me think to exchange the sweet potatoes called for in the original recipe with chunks of rutabaga instead. 

Rutabaga cooked

Warm spices, bright colors, a little kick…this dish is far from boring and stale.  In fact, it’s really much more like a breath of fresh spring-time air! 

Rutabaga with Ginger and Lemon
Adapted from 5 Spices, 50 Dishes

2 lbs (1 large) rutabaga
2 T. canola oil
½ t. mustard seeds
½ t. red pepper flakes
1 large shallot, very thinly sliced
1 t. finely grated fresh ginger
½ t. ground turmeric
Generous pinch of coarse salt
1 lemon, juiced

Peel and dice the rutabaga into 1 inch cubes.  Place in a medium saucepan with just enough water to cover and boil just until tender.  Drain and set aside. 

Heat the oil in the saucepan over high heat.  When the oil just begins to smoke, add the mustard seeds and cover to shield the splattering.  When the seeds stop sputtering, quickly add the red pepper flakes, ginger and shallot.  Saute until the shallot is lightly browned, then add the turmeric and stir for a minute. 

Add the cooked rutabaga and salt and toss gently to coat with spices.  Cover and steam over low heat until the flavors meld, about five minutes.  Add lemon juice and toss.  Serve hot or at room temperature. 

(serves 3-4)

Rutabaga with Lemon and Ginger

Entry filed under: Purely Vegetables, Recipes. Tags: , , , , , .

Spring Into Action Here Today

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. gintoino  |  March 22, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    Hum…here is another vegetable you won’t find in Portugal (or ,at least, I’ve never seen it). I’ve always thought rutabaga was a “fancy name” for turnips, so I really cant’s imagine their taste or cook this in the near future. This, like parsnips, is something to try on my vegetable garden.

  • 2. VegeYum  |  March 23, 2008 at 1:26 am

    Ah, I recognise this! It is a swede. Not such a fancy name as rutabaga, but swede nevertheless.

    In Australia it is mostly relegated to winter soups. In colder countries it is used much more. When I spent last winter in London, we cooked with it a lot. Used lots of butter and cream with it, but Amberjee’s house has lots of stairs and running up and down those all day stopped me putting on weight.

  • 3. VegeYum  |  March 23, 2008 at 1:26 am

    Oh, PS, see wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rutabaga .

  • 4. Jennie  |  March 24, 2008 at 7:23 am

    Gintoino – I saw so many interesting root vegetables in the markets in my travels, but I guess there weren’t any rutabagas. As VegeYum pointed out, they are also called swedes in much of Europe… do you have swedes? I can’t wait to hear all about your garden this year as I think you will be planting many new things to eat!! 🙂

  • 5. Jennie  |  March 24, 2008 at 7:25 am

    VegeYum – Yep, you are correct – this is known outside of the U.S. as a swede. I tend to like “rutabaga” better as it rolls off the tongue so nicely. 🙂 Thanks for the link to Wiki. I wish I’d had the chance to eat swedes all winter in a friend’s flat in London… 🙂

  • 6. PandaElf  |  March 24, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    How do you keep the rutabagas? I just got several & won’t be able to use them for at least two weeks…fridge? Countertop? Freezer? Ack!

  • 7. Jennie  |  March 24, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    PandaElf – I happen to have a cool dry basement so I store them there. If you’re not lucky enough to have a basement, it’s best to store rutabagas in a similar cool dark place (put them in a paper bag in your crisper drawer if you don’t have another good spot in your home). A general rule of thumb is to store them the way you do potatoes (although that presumes you store potatoes correctly). 🙂

  • 8. Jennie  |  March 24, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Oh, and mine have been keeping just fine all winter so you don’t need to worry about hurrying up and using them right away. 🙂

  • 9. PandaElf  |  March 25, 2008 at 11:54 am

    I have no idea whether I store my potatoes correctly, but they’ve been doing just fine in that crisper drawer for a while so I at least store them effectively ;).

    Thanks for the tip!

  • 10. Corn Out the Ears « Straight from the Farm  |  September 1, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    […] Rutabaga with Ginger and Lemon Sautéed Beets with Lemon and Mustard Butternut Squash and Green Bean Curry Railway Potatoes […]

  • 11. nehuy spamit s icq  |  November 26, 2009 at 8:36 am

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    Very usefull. Thanks! nehuy spamit s icq…

  • 12. Homemade Onion Rings « Straight from the Farm  |  February 23, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    […] I just wasn’t thinking about what you might do as the star of the show.  But as we enter the “leanest month” – March – for locavores, I gave you a piercing stare as you hung there in your little mesh bags from a peg in my dry cool […]


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