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Just call 'em Swedes. Mashed Rutabagas might be your new favorite, ahem, potato.

Updated: Jan 10, 2022

My grandmother, Ruth Valborg Isakson - and the whole big clan - was from Sweden. They came over in the first decade of the 20th c. and I got a thorough grounding in all foods Swedish while growing up. Smörgåsbord. Svenska Kottbuller. Leverpastej. Smogåsgurka. The whole nine yards. It was pretty funny, considering that I grew up in South Florida (walking distance from Little Havana), instead of Minnesota. I was as fond of a good Cortadito and a Medianoche, as Swedish meatballs. And, isn't that the real beauty of the American melting pot? The mash-up of cultures?

Although I don't partake of the animal-based foods anymore, I still adore Swedes. You might know them as Rutabaga. I like saying the word in a riff on my Swedish family accent. "Rooota-baaga". Yeah. Something like that.

Rutabagas are a member of the Brassica family of vegetables, and often referred to as Yellow Turnips, or Swedish Turnips. Or, Swedes, for short. Oddly enough, the vegetable was sorta invented by a Swiss botanist. My grandmother and her siblings (Elizabeth Dagmar, Esther Ingebor, Rudy Karl, Ivar and Thorston) wouldn't have believed that on a bet. Gaspard Bauhin, of Basel, Switzerland, found it growing wild and domesticated it. The name “Rutabaga” comes from rotabagge, the plant’s Swedish name, meaning “baggy root” and which is probably why it's referred to as a Swedish turnip. It's believed that they are something of a cross between a cabbage and a turnip.

The beauty of the Rutabaga is its versatility. It's creamy enough to be mashed. Firm enough to be sliced paper-thin, and grated. It makes a grand pickle. One of the next things to try: Rutabaga oven fries. I think that just might work.

They require peeling, but it's a matter of a minute or two with a decent Y-shaped peeler like the one you see above. That is my only peeler anymore. They simply work better.

Then, you need a good sharp knife to cut them up. They're tough. Kinda like my Swedish forebears. If you're going to boil or cook them in the Instant Pot, which I recommend, cut them into small-ish pieces like you see up there. Then, they'll all cook through perfectly and be ready for smashing.

You can boil them, of course, or pressure cook them in water or stock. But, I find that I get a much better result (the same holds true for potatoes!) with 'pressure steaming' them in the Instant Pot. Cut up as you see there, with about an inch of water in the bottom, use the steamer basket insert. This way, the vegetable doesn't become waterlogged. Nobody like waterlogged Swedes. There's a joke there, but I'll let it go.

Always season vegetables like Swedes, or potatoes before you pressure cook or steam them. The flavors of the salt, pepper and spices is shot into the vegetables, flavoring from the inside out. Okay, so you noticed that I tossed some Russet potato in there. I had one left in the bin. Sue me.

High pressure for 5 minutes. Poke 'em with a paring knife. Yup. They're ready to mash.

Put a little plant milk on the rutabagas, and work them over with a potato masher. Taste and adjust seasoning. Oops! That was a bad idea. They're delicious, and now I can't stop tasting them! Help!

Warm up the leftover mushroom gravy - using my Creamy Chikin Gravy as the base, with some oil-free sautéed mushrooms in it - make a cute little swimming pool in the mashed rutabagas, and ladle the gravy into it.

Add some crisp-tender steamed peas in the pod - a simple folding steamer basket in a pot with a lid. It took about 4 minutes from the time the water started boiling. Do that while you're assembling the salad and plating everything else.

Oh, BTW, this was my grandmother, Ruth. She was part owner of a barbershop on Miami Beach back in the late 30's and early 40's. She's administering a manicure to famed comedian, Jerry Lewis.

Hey, if you like or make this dish, would you mind posting the recipe to Yummly? I'd really appreciate that. The Yummly icon is on the right side of this webpage. Oh, and saving to Pinterest would also be great! Each photo should have a Pinterest icon in the upper left corner! Thanks!

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