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Produce Corner - Rutabaga

The Produce Corner is a collaborative column by farmer and Dill Pickle owner Rob Montalbano and Dill Pickle's Produce Lead Buyer, Kristen Martinek. Here Rob shares info on some of his favorite in-season veggies including history, cooking ideas and storage tips; Kristen offers nutritional information and additional recipe ideas. Rob lives and works with his wife Christina on their farm in Sandwich, IL.

You are probably going to find this hard to believe but it's difficult to find somebody who lists the rutabaga as their favorite vegetable. And yet there it is, in the grocery store usually at this time of year, every year. "But what do you even do with a rutabaga?" I think I can help.

First, you don't even have to like every vegetable. You heard me right. Personally, the rutabaga is not one of my delectables. But if you've never even tried rutabagas, now is a great time. They are fresh in the fall and their nutrition, like most vegetables, is exceptional. Low in calories, no cholesterol and lots of vitamins and minerals make rutabagas welcome to most. On top of that, they store really well in the refrigerator - just keep them cold with high humidity.

I have 3 "go-to" recipes for rutabagas. Like most of my cooking, these recipes are simple and quick. The easiest, of course, is to eat them raw. Wash and peel the rutabaga and then grate atop a salad. Done. Another easy use for pretty much every root vegetable is to roast them. Cut into bite sized chunks, add some oil, and bake at 450 until tender. A little salt can be added, or not. Finally, my favorite swede recipe (rutabagas are often called Swedes because they grow well in Sweden's cool climate) is to mash them. Chop equal parts rutabaga and potato into chunks, boil in vegetable stock until tender, and mash. You (and your family) will never even know it's rutabaga in there.

On behalf of rutabaga farmers everywhere, thanks for giving them a try. – Rob

I consider myself incredibly lucky that I was raised partly in the Chicago suburbs, partly on my family's farm in Wisconsin. Some of my fondest childhood memories on our farm include helping in the garden & enjoying the freshest of meals moments after harvest. It may seem odd but some my most vivid memories of eating from our garden, was absolutely loving on the freshly mashed rutabaga and turnips! Mashed rutabagas have always been on my family’s Thanksgiving menu and were the one dish I enjoyed more than mashed potatoes or yams. Something about its unique bitterness & hint of sweet has had me hooked since as long as I can remember.

As a member of the crucifers (same family as broccoli, kale, cabbage,etc.), rutabaga provides quite an assortment of nutritional benefits, as Rob mentioned above. This root is a great source of vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and fiber. As with all other superstars of the cruciferious family, it contains a class of compounds called glucosinolates, which are known to have cancer-inhibiting properties. So not only are they boosting your immunity with vitamin C, they are helping mitigate cancer cells!

So, while my go-to recipe now-a-days is simply plain boiled or steamed rutabaga, I recommend trying out this Swede Potato Soup with Fried Spaghetti Squash and Toasted Pepitas. Because how could you not want to devour this!? -Kristen

The Brine - Fall 2013

The Fall 2013 issue of The Brine is in the store and online. Click the link at left to learn more about useful tinctures, getting started with some easy fermentation projects, the difference between FDA certified and USDA Organic in body care products and the benefits of giving an owner loan. PLUS a lovely ode to autumn, advice for putting your garden to bed, and more!

In Budget In Season

In Budget In Season is a series of pocket-sized recipe books with delcious, seasonal, main course dishes for $4 per serving or less. The just-released harvest collection--and the ingredients!--can be found at the co-op or on our recipes page. Mmm...spicy sauteed kale over rice...

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