A simple supper can be created with two uncomplicated winter roots, the potato and rutabaga. As a child I found the aroma of rutabaga quite intense. All of my mother’s friends agreed however that her mash of the two vegetables was truly wonderful. Everyone took second helpings at dinner parties. This recipe is a family classic and has always been a part of our holiday and wintery meals. I suggest adding it to your collection of comfort foods.
- 750 grams of red skinned potatoes
- 1 shallot
- 3 rutabaga roots approximating 300 grams
- 100 grams of milk
- 25 grams of butter
- 25 grams of extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt and pepper
- 5 grams of raw cane sugar
- freshly grated nutmeg, if so desired
Peel the potatoes, rinsing them quickly in a colander. Place the potatoes in a pan filling it with cold water just two fingers above the peeled potatoes. Put the potatoes on the stove at medium heat, adding a good pinch of salt. Once the potatoes reach boiling point, simmer them until tender at the center. This will take about twenty minutes. Meanwhile peel and cube the rutabaga into bite-sized pieces. Peel the shallot and dice it into cubes half the size of the rutabaga.
Sauté the shallot and rutabaga in three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil at medium heat until the shallot becomes translucent. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and a pinch of raw cane sugar, adding just enough water to cover the vegetables. Put a lid on the pan, turning the heat down, and cook the rutabaga until tender, in approximately fifteen minutes.
Drain the potatoes and put them back into the pan, adding knobs of butter and a small glass of milk. Warm the potatoes at low heat, allowing the potatoes to soak up the milk a bit. Puree the potatoes with an old-fashioned potato masher. Add the rutabaga to the pan, mashing all the ingredients just enough that the rutabaga is recognizably different from the smooth potato puree. Season with freshly grated nutmeg, sea salt and pepper.
Serve the rutabaga mash in a bowl covered with grated Parmesan or Pecorino.
♦ Suggested combinations
My Mom served her rutabaga mashed potatoes with turkey and grilled ham. I am sure she would approve of serving it simply with a drizzle of this winter’s new olive oil, adding some sautéed wild spinach to this bowl of winter comfort. I suggest adding some garden cress to the mash for an interesting bite. I like my sautéed spinach with a squeeze of lemon.
During my research of the rutabaga I discovered that combining this particular root with potato is a Scottish tradition. The Scots also call the rutabaga a turnip. The rutabaga is also called a swede. This explains my confusion with this group of root vegetables. Both the turnip and the rutabaga are similar and interchangeable in the kitchen. You may find purple and white turnips or rutabaga roots where you live. Turnips are also to be found in pale white tinged with purple, as well as in a pale orange, greenish color.
My Mom’s family is originally from Scotland. It is interesting to learn many years later that her mashed potatoes have a history going back to her country of origin. The food we put on our tables are truly a mix of family and cultural history.