glazed rutabagas with pistachios

march 8, 2013

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Pity the poor rutabaga.  Mislabeled, misunderstood, underused and unappreciated.  Somewhat hesitant to list rutabaga as a solo agent on the menus of The Good Eats Company, I include it in, for examples, a creamy colorful root vegetable soup, and white balsamic glazed root vegetables.  Folks ask me what rutabaga tastes like, and I answer, for lack of better comparison, that it tastes like a cross between carrot and turnip.  But dear rutabaga is so much more than this simplistic description!  Carrot haters and turnip despisers may remember childhood battles at the dinner table, bargains struck with parents offering vegetables in earnest, and rejection in the form of a  tiny mouth set in a grim line and the Word : “NO”.  And so my answer seems less than adequate.

If you purchased rutabaga in a grocery store, you may contend with the puzzled expressions at checkout and the inevitable question “What is this?”  It is also likely your rutabaga will be encased in food grade wax, making it appear lumpen and inedible.  Here is what nice organic unwaxed rutabaga looks like (this was obtained from my local Ellwood Thompson Natural Market) :

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My reticence is contributing to the identity crisis of this glorious vegetable, and I vow to stop hiding its light under a barrel.  Cooked rutabaga is a treat, and I like it raw as well, sliced thinly or cut into skinny batons.  Rutabaga would add depth to fall harvest salad and offer a counterpoint to the sweetness of honey lemon forelle pears with stilton.

Today’s recipe is a variation on the classic theme of glazed vegetables, whereby cut vegetables are braised in  stock and butter, then given a shiny glaze when the cooking liquid is reduced.  You may use vegan margarine and  vegetable stock to make a vegan friendly version, or butter and chicken stock to honor the classic French technique.

I am hoping you will chuck all preconceived notions about the rutabaga and say yes to its unique aroma, texture and flavor.  Perhaps you will fall in love with its golden charms, as I have.

glazed rutabagas with pistachios

ingredients

recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company

makes four to six servings

1 1/2 pounds rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 cup best quality chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegan version)
1 1/2 T unsalted butter (or vegan margarine for vegan version)
scant 1/8 t fine sea salt (I like Baleine)
one pinch of finely ground white pepper
2 T chopped roasted unsalted pistachiosDSCN1221

directions

  1. Place rutabaga in heavy medium saute pan with butter, stock, salt and pepper.
  2. Bring to full boil, stir until butter has melted, then cover and simmer over low heat until rutabaga is tender and can be easily pierced with a knife, about 5-9 minutes (longer time will yield creamier texture).
  3. Remove cover, add pistachios, then increase heat to high and boil, stirring occasionally, until rutabaga is nicely coated with reduced sauce. It is fine if some gets caramelized.
  4. May be made up to three days in advance; heat gently over medium heat in sauté pan, adding a bit of stock if needed.
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