04/24/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

5 Ways to Eat More (Winter) Veggies: Rutabaga

Dear BA Foodist,

I've officially got the winter cooking blues. I'm so sick of cooking potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Any vegetable suggestions to tide me over until asparagus season?

Sally Degage, Princeton, New Jersey

Dear Sally,

Because of ingredient availability, cooking in winter can be more challenging than in spring and summer. Perhaps you are buying the wrong vegetables. There's a whole world of unsung winter vegetables that are increasingly available in supermarkets across America. To inspire you, I've listed my favorite winter vegetables along with recipes from five great chefs. We began withcardoons, celeriac, and Jerusalem artichokes (a.k.a sunchokes)--today is all about rutabagas which taste like turnips (and I mean that as a compliment).

Rutabaga Gratin
from Steven Satterfield at Miller Union, Atlanta

1 large or 2 small rutabagas, peeled and thinly sliced (See note below)
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for buttering the casserole dish
2 ounces sharp dry cheese (I used Flat Creek Lodge Farmhouse Cheese, but any kind of sharp grating cheese like Parmigiano-Reggiano could work)
1 cup of freshly grated bread crumbs (a rustic sourdough or crusty European style bread is my favorite for this type of breadcrumb)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons kosher salt
a few gratings of freshly grated nutmeg
a few turns of black pepper, freshly milled

1) In a medium sized buttered casserole dish, place one layer of thinly sliced rutabagas evenly across the bottom. Season uniformly with kosher salt, dot with tiny pats of butter, grate lightly with nutmeg, and then begin another layer. Continue until the dish is filled 2/3 of the way up the sides, seasoning each layer evenly.

2) Add the chicken broth, milk and cream. The liquid should come just below the top layer of rutabagas. Add the grated cheese across the top layer.

3) Run the bread through a food processor and drizzle the olive oil in to coat the bread at the end. Season the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper. Add the breadcrumbs across the top and then gently press down on all of the layers, to add some moisture to the bread. This will help keep it from burning across the top.

4) Bake at 350ºF for 45 minutes, or until the rutabagas in the center are tender when tested with a paring knife or skewer. Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes before serving.

Note: Be sure to peel rutabagas very well. There is a thin line of lighter (sometimes green or white) flesh just underneath the skin that I always remove. I've found it tends to have the most bitter flavor. The sweeter part of the root is a deeper pale golden-yellow color that has the most flavor.

Check back tomorrow for the fifth and final winter vegetable recipe featuring salsify.


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