Underdog of the vegetable world, rutabaga really is one of those winter vegetables that nobody is really quite sure what to do with — am I right? So, mash it? Throw it in with a stew? What else? ROAST it! Trust me, it sings in your mouth! Okay, maybe I shouldn’t take it to such glamorous heights. But roasted, it’s definitely more than good and this roasted rutabaga salad proves seasonality in winter doesn’t have to be ho-hum.
Rutabaga, also called swedes are often confused with being a turnip — that’s right, it’s not a turnip, people — okay… technically, it is actually a direct cross between cabbage and turnip, but there are some differences. Rutabaga has a sweeter flavor and grow to be quite a bit larger in size. The rutabaga’s dense flesh is yellowy-orange, with a sweet, earthy flavor — a flavor that is milder in taste and far superior than turnips — I think.
In cooked dishes, this is where rutabaga totally shines, whereas turnips on the other hand…well, personally, I can’t even be in the same room as turnips cooking because of the strong smell. Or maybe it’s the mental association to the smell. My adversity definitely stems from a childhood overdose of mashed turnips. Perhaps they are not so bad as I make them out to be. Just maybe my misfortune was due to those older, larger turnips, the ones with a bitter taste.
I don’t entirely hate turnips. In Germany, it is more common to find pure white turnips at the local farmer’s markets — they are called globe turnip or snowball turnips. They are amazing and so different than the North American turnip I grew up on and was accustomed to — juicy, sweet and mild, they are a perfect addition to any salad.
So even though rutabagas may be one of these root vegetables that are easy to ignore, it’s really one your shouldn’t. You’d be missing out. They have what I find to be the perfect balance of buttery sweetness and earthiness. They are really great roasted, grilled, and of course as many of you may already know them, in your favorite stew or soup.
This salad is easily adaptable. You can use white, black or red quinoa, even a mix and any sort of other root vegetables. If you have an assortment of root vegetables, such as carrots, beets, parsnips, or turnips, hanging around the refrigerator, go ahead and toss them in with the rutabaga. They all make perfect partners.
For this roasted rutabaga salad, I had a hankering for parsnips so threw a few into the mix. Okay, I admit I love them and again these are one of those under-loved root vegetables that require a little creativity to figure out just how to make them a part of an interesting dish. One of my favorite ways to enjoy them is with apples, as in this risotto.
TIP: for meat lovers, a little sautéed Jamón serrano (dry-cured Spanish ham) would be a great addition to this quinoa and roasted rutabaga salad.
Roasted Rutabaga Salad with Quinoa
Serves 2 as a main, or 4 as a side
For the roasted vegetables:
1 medium rutabaga, peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
2-3 small parsnips, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
For the dressing:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons good-quality red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1 garlic clove, minced
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the salad:
1/2 cup uncooked red quinoa, rinsed (100 g)
4 to 5 handfuls lamb’s lettuce (Mâche)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped (50 g)
1. Preheat the oven to 375˚F / 190°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, toss the rutabaga and parsnips with the garlic, olive oil, honey, salt and thyme leaves until evenly coated. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, and spread out into a single layer. Bake until caramelizing and tender, about 35-40 minutes (depending on how big or small your bite-sized pieces are).
3. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa according to package instructions. Once cooked, set aside to cool.
4. Remove the rutabaga and parsnips from oven and set aside to cool.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, shallot, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
6. To assemble salad, in a large bowl, toss the roasted vegetables with cooked quinoa and lamb’s lettuce until everything is well combined. Scatter with the toasted hazelnuts, serve and enjoy!