The vegetables of winter: Turnips and Swede

I am unnaturally obsessed with vegetables, but even I know that most people don’t get too wound up about the root vegetables that locavores in northern climes are working their way through this time of year. I also think we should all give up on the word Rutabaga altogether, and follow the Euro lead in calling it Swede. No wonder no one cooks the poor thing; what an awful name. But my Bubble and Squeak didn’t use a fraction of the vegetables I’ve got in cold storage, so prepare yourselves for a few more entries on how to use The Other Root Vegetables.
(Alternative slogans:
We’re not sexy but we sure store well!
Lumpy but delicious!
Off your feed? Try some Swede!

(Oh my god, someone help me.)

ANYWAY. Look, turnips!

I tossed them with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted for….a while. A long while. I kept tasting every so often once they looked cooked, and by the time Ben had grilled [more] steaks they were wrinkled-looking but tasted awesome.

Now for the really photogenic stuff. Go get some swede. Seriously, go. It’s a huge wax-covered lump in most grocery stores, though mine were much smaller than normal since they came from the CSA. I used two small and one medium; a normal-sized large one would do all by itself.

Peel and cut it up into smallish pieces so it will cook quickly and evenly. Be careful while cutting it and keep in mind that before pumpkins were common in the British Isles, the original jack o’ lanterns were made from swede. These things are tough. Cover the pieces with water, add some salt, bring to a boil and cook until soft.

Drain, add butter and get out your trusty masher (I found an Oxo one
that resembles Jamie Oliver’s, and I like the design a lot.)

Mash. Add salt and pepper to taste. Do a little dance to celebrate how tasty this nutritious vegetable is (wiki tells me it’s a cross between a turnip and a cabbage! I love cabbage!). Serve with something good: in this case, crispy pork cutlets and corn from the farm that I froze in August.

Oh, and by the way. While this is what winter looks like in these parts (snowier, actually; it’s snowing as I type)…

(The beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA in mid-January)

…I have to celebrate our wonderful annual visit to our friends Josh and Keren and The Amazing Adley in Florida. This is their reality:

Here I am, baffled by this “sunshine” and “warm weather” of which I’ve heard so much:

It was hard to come back to this:

But I have pretty tulips this week and I know spring will come eventually.

7 thoughts on “The vegetables of winter: Turnips and Swede”

  1. I am very inspired by your winter vegetables, and want to try making them soon. I didn’t grow up eating turnips and such, so I didn’t know how to cook them, but I want to take more advantage of the seasonal winter vegs. But I differ in that I like the name rutabaga, I think its pretty fun to say.

  2. “Off your feed? Try some swede!” is absolutely brilliant. Rutabaga for the ruder baker?

    At any rate, great post, and I also will endorse mixing in some celeriac with your smashed veggies. Very fine flavor.

  3. Tom: I thought you’d like that! I looooove celeriac but this winter Chez Flaim we are eating what the CSA gave us, and the CSA only gave us two knobs of celeriac. 🙁

  4. i grew up just north of boston new england boil dinners with all the veggies is one of my favorties foods
    however i moved to the west coast and can not find a rutabaga -winter turnip – swede anywhere
    can anyone help me locate them out here
    i would also love to try a wiki
    karen ( lost without my winter veggies)

  5. Impossible to resist a person who is abnormally obsessed with vegetables. How refreshing! Am so happy you recommend the rutabagas. I had forgotten their wonderful tang.I plan to get some right away. We can forget these simple pleasures, how nice of you to remind us.

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