Sturdy, humble rutabagas! As part of my quest to learn more about the root vegetables that are abundant in mid-winter at local markets and from community farm shares, I grabbed a few rutabagas… but what to do with them was a mystery! It’s not a veggie we ever had growing up, nor is it one I see filling the pages of the cooking magazines I read.
After buying my rutabagas, I did my research and learned that the rutabaga is a cruciferous vegetable in the cabbage family, perhaps a cross between turnips and cabbage. Sure enough when I starting to cut and peel my rutabagas there was a bit of a cabbage aroma.
I wanted to find a way to prepare them that would entice my family to try them (they are my reluctant companions on the quest to get to know root veggies!) I knew simply boiling or mashing the rutabagas was not going to be enough.
Though a rutabaga is certainly not a potato, something about the firm texture and pale color got me thinking about potato dishes, and cooking them up like potatoes. Then suddenly I found myself dreaming of home fries, our diner breakfast favorite.
In two shakes of a rutabaga’s tail, I had them cubed, tossed in oil, seasoned and in the hot skillet. A combination of searing and browning, combined with a quick steaming gave the rutabagas a tender texture and lots of savory flavor.
Though it was a gamble to hope that my family would come running when I called out, “Come here and try these rutabagas!”, they were good sports as always and did give them a whirl. And they liked them! A sprinkle of Parmesan over the dish certainly didn’t hurt. No, Parmesan never hurt anyone. And hopefully a rutabaga never will either!
Rutabaga Home Fries Topped With Parmesan Cheese
- 1-1/2 pounds rutabagas, washed
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
Cut off the ends of the rutabagas and use a vegetable peeler to peel away the skins. Slice the rutabagas into 1-inch cubes. (You will end up with about 4 cups of cubed rutabaga.) Put the cubed rutabaga into a medium bowl. Add in the canola oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat the rutabagas thoroughly.
Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Have ready a cover for this pan and 1/2 cup of water. Add in the prepared rutabagas to the pan and spread them into an even layer to cook. Every 2 or 3 minutes, as edges begin to brown stir through the rutabagas and then spread into an even layer again. Cook them this way for a total of 10 minutes.
Add the 1/2 cup water to the pan and quickly cover. Steam the rutabagas for about 2 minutes: they should be fork-tender.
Remove the cover and increase the heat slightly to help quickly cook away the water. After the water cooks away, spread the rutabagas to an even layer again and cook them for 5 minutes more: stir through every minute or two to help all the sides brown and the moisture to cook off.
Remove the pan from the heat. Sprinkle half of the grated Parmesan over the home fries. Transfer them to a serving dish, and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan over the top. Serve the home fries while they're warm.
Yields 4 1/2-cup servings
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