Rutabaga Mash

Rutabaga Mash: Holiday Trending

Buttered Rutabagas were a staple on our Thanksgiving / Christmas table when I was growing up and I’m revisiting them today ~ these delicious pale orange rutabaga are misunderstood and probably the most overlooked veggie.

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TIRED OF MASHED POTATOES?

Some people have never had rutabaga in their entire life.  It is a standard holiday dish in Finland known as lanttulaatikko . Last year at a Scandinavian dinner, my friend had mashed rutabaga for the first time. She loved it! So healthy and easy to make.

Some people mix RUTABAGA with turnips. Turnips are generally smaller and not as sweet as rutabaga. You may also find ‘all white’ turnips at your supermarket. Rutabagas have a pale orange bottom half compared to the white bottom half of a turnip.

Root Vegetables

SIDE DISH: I start cooking my rutabaga first, before preparing my main meal. This veggie is cooked on top of the stove 25-35 minutes before it is popped into the oven. OVEN TIME: 1 hour.  If I have a big bird in the oven, I will center the bird in the oven and leave the rack below it for the rutabaga casserole which can be added in the last hour of cooking the bird.

INGREDIENTS
6 cups of rutabaga (in Finnish, lanttu), peeled, washed and diced in large chunks
1/4 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs beaten
1/4 cup heavy cream or milk
3 tablespoons butter

INSTRUCTIONS:
(Preheat the oven to 350F)
1. PEEL, CUBE AND BOIL RUTABAGA in salted boiling water- until tender-drain and mash.
2. Soak the breadcrumbs in the cream and add nutmeg and beaten eggs. combine with the mashed rutabagas. Add mixture to a buttered 2 1/2 quart baking dish ( or individual dishes ). Bake for about 60 minutes or until golden brown.

TOPPINGS: Top with bread crumbs and butter nobs ( optional ) before the casserole goes into the oven. Before serving: Decorate with chives or chopped parsley.

Secret Ingredient: I always add garlic ~ not in the original recipe.

The traditional recipe from Finland adds heavy cream and dark syrup before the baking process. Add nutmeg ‘to taste’. It’s the most important ingredient.

Food Tip for rutabaga mashed casserole.

FOOD TIP

To speed up the cooking time before mashing the rutabaga, use a microwave ( covered on high, add 1 cup of water 15-20 min. ) or pressure cooker ( 9 minutes) . Use several small baking dishes for freezer appeal. Add apple or carrots for sweetness. You can optionally add a crushed garlic and/or 2 cardamom pods in the boiling water. FOR ADDED ZIP, add spices: ginger, cinnamon or turmeric to taste.

Why are rutabagas (neeps, swedes) half purple? —They are a mix of wild cabbage and turnips. A portion of the plant grows above ground and changes colour from the sun.
(P.S. You can eat the green tops too – tastes a bit like spinach).

News Flash Rutabaga Low in Calories

RUTABAGA has less than half the calories of white potatoes & sweet potatoes!

(1/3 the carbs.)

Ketogenic-friendly!

Here’s the picture from Michael (see comment below) of his rutabaga mash using ramekins. I would enjoy seeing pictures you have from your rutabaga dish and will add them to the post. Please email them to me: info@simplysplendidfood.com

Mashed Rutabaga, Hot From The Oven

Tamarind and Chick Peas

9ūüé∂¬† THREE’S¬† THE¬† CHARM¬† ūüé∂ ¬†
(1) TAMARIND (2) SPINACH (3) CHICK PEAS
I had this dish years ago, without all the spices and was not impressed.¬† The spices in this recipe enhance the key flavour of¬† the tamarind.¬† Surprisingly, the 3 jalape√Īo peppers are not hot in this dish.¬† An EASY 30 MINUTE meal packed with protein and flavour.¬† Leftovers makes a great lunch at the office!¬† Another¬† winner!


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INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¬Ĺ tsp nigella seeds
1¬Ĺ tsp fennel seeds¬† ( or¬† anise seeds)
1 medium onion ( chopped )
400 g can chopped tomatoes (san marzano)
3 green jalae√Īo peppers, seeded and cut into quarter lengths
2-3 tsp monk fruit sweetener ( or stevia, truvia, etc. )
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
410 g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1-2 tbsp tamarind paste ( adjust to taste )
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
half a 250g/9oz bag of organic baby spinach leaves
Serving suggestion:  natural yogurt and chapatis

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Fry the nigella and fennel seeds for about 10 second. Add the onion and cook gently for 8-10 minutes until golden.

2. Mix in the tomatoes,¬† jalape√Īos,¬† sweetener ( Monk fruit ), paprika, turmeric and¬† chickpeas. Bring to a boil,¬† then simmer for 10 minutes.¬† Make sure your dish is stew-like; not too dry. Add water if needed.

3. Stir in the tamarind and coriander. ( (You need to do a taste test here. Add more tamerind to get  that tamerind sweet and sour flavour).  Add the spinach leaves and stir gently until they’ve just wilted. You can serve as a main course with yogurt and chapatis or as a side dish.

Tamarind paste

Tamarind Paste

Tamarind Chick Peas

Tamarind and Chick Peas

COOKING TIP:¬† Before starting to cook, do all your chopping and rinse out the chick peas. Check your spice rack to make sure you have all your spices¬† measured and placed in¬† small dishes. ahead of time. This “mise en place”¬† technique makes cooking time much faster.

WARNING: Do not buy tamarind without reading the ingredients on the label. I bought tamarind in a bottle at the grocery store. I neglected to read the label as I was in a hurry. The main ingredient was syrup. Tamarind was the fourth ingredient! I was disappointed. Do not accept substitutes or a bogus spice seller that claims to be tamarind. Without ‘true’ tamarind, this recipe is so – so. I soaked my tamerind block in water¬† took the seeds out and ladled the liquid into the dish. ( About 1 cup ) The difference was like night and day.

DID YOU KNOW? The recipe for WORCESTERSHIRE Sauce contains tamarind?  The one ingredient that sets Worcestershire sauce apart  is tamarind  fruit. The sweetness in this fruit  is balanced by its high content of acid, giving it that sweet-sour taste.

TAMARIND is a condiment, a spice and a fruit. Its extract, which tastes deliciously tangy, is one of the most highly valued foods in Asian and Indian cuisine. ( Origin: Africa )

TAMARIND contains an impressive amount of essential minerals such as thiamine, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. Some of its other prominent nutrients include niacin, calcium, vitamin C, copper, fiber and pyridoxine.

Tamarind treats both constipation and diarrhea naturally by increasing the effectiveness of the digestive tract.  Tamarind has long been considered a natural laxative.  It stimulates your metabolism and also keeps your digestive system strong and improves blood circulation. Good for weight loss. Boost your immune system. Also, it has anti-inflammatory properties.

Tamarind Pods and Beverage

Swedish Red Cabbage and Apples

animated-swedish-flagA traditional dish served during the Christmas season in Sweden. Pair the Swedish red cabbage and apples  with Finnish meatballs  or as a side dish with just about anything.  A bright and colourful addition to your festive holiday dining! Easy to make in advance. This dish is actually better the next day.  Enjoy your red cabbage/apple dish in the summer since it is equally delicious served cold.  Any leftovers will disappear quickly from your fridge.
Note: I have used olive oil instead of the traditional butter, so you can served cold. Yumm!!!

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cabbage-ingredientsINGREDIENTS
3 Tablespoons of olive oil
2 organic Granny Smith, Macintosh or other slightly tart apples
1 large onion, chopped
1 red cabbage (1 lb. before trimming)
3 Tablespoons sweetener
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup red wine
1 tablespoon red currant or hot pepper jelly
salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Place olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot.
2. Add chopped onions and saute until translucent on medium low heat.
3. While they are cooking, peel and chop the apples and add to the onions stirring occasionally.
4. Remove the inner core of the cabbage and roughly chop. Add to the onions and apples and cook for about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low if it is boiling.
5. Add the salt, vinegar, spices, and sugar substitute. Cook covered for 10 minutes.
6. Add wine and jelly and cook uncovered for 5 minutes longer.

I try not to overcook this dish as texture is a very important part of food appreciation.  Crunchy and chewy textures slow you down and help you eat more deliberately and more joyfully.

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didyouknowRed cabbage is an excellent source of vitamins C and K and a very good source of fiber, folate, vitamin B6, and omega-3 fatty acids.¬† It is also a good source of vitamin B1, B2, calcium, vitamin A and protein.¬† One cup of boiled cabbage has just thirty-three calories.¬† Cabbage is good for reducing your risk of cancer and possibly of Alzheimer’s disease.¬† In the laboratory, red cabbage protects against oxidative stress in the brain, reducing the buildup of plaque and again reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s.¬† Also, a Chinese study found that women who ate the most cruciferous vegetable such as cabbage were at half the risk for breast cancer as those who ate little or none.

Tasty Cucumber Salad

This Dill~Cucumber Salad recipe is so easy and simple to make with just a few ingredients.  It is very refreshing and delicious in summer and equally as good during the winter months.

chilly-dilly

Chilly Dilly Cucumber

An excellent salad¬† to accompany those tasty Finnish meatballs, meatloaf, smoked salmon and as a side dish for any meal.¬† I brought the cucumber salad to my neighbour’s place.¬† We had this salad with smoked salmon, capers, lemon, cream cheese and rye crackers.¬† The cool cucumber salad cuts the richness of the smoked salmon in a most pleasant way.¬† Since we are all of different nationalities, we discussed and critiqued other country’s versions of¬† cucumber salad. The election was over after we counted the votes. My Dill~Cucumber Salad won!
Chilly Dilly cucumber will not be making any speeches. However, his winning secret is in the dill ~ a subtle, delicious flavour that really enhances the cucumber.

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INGREDIENTS
1 medium cucumber thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar substitute
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons  avocado or salad oil
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INSTRUCTIONS
1.  Mix the vinegar, water, sugar substitute, salt and oil together and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar substitute
2.  Add the dill and cucumber slices.
3.  Refrigerate for several hours to let the flavours meld.
IMG_1526didyouknow TOP SEVEN ALKALINE FOODS: The cucumber is one of the most alkaline foods  (#3) that you can eat.  Combined with the  effect of the apple cider vinegar, it will help to make you body alkaline or at least closer to a neutral pH when you are eating acidic proteins.  Both meat and even fish and chicken are acidic.  Your body wants to stay alkaline or at least closer to a neutral pH to stay healthy along with fighting off and prevent disease.  Eat your veggies!

BONUS: This is a very tasty cucumber salad recipe!  Until you make this cucumber recipe perhaps for the first time, you will know what you have been missing!  My taste testers (friends) tell me all the time.  You will make this salad again and again!
HEALTHY OIL
This salad contains 2 tablespoons of healthy oil, which is my variation to the traditional Finnish cucumber salad. Not only does it prevents the cucumber slices from sticking together it is so good and healthy for you. If you recall the¬† true story about Lorenzo’s oil. (actually containing two specific long chain fatty acids, isolated from rapeseed oil and olive oil)¬† will know the miracle of oils.¬† We don’t know everything about food/medicine. Some people have a shot of oil in the morning to start their day!

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CUCUMBER TIPS and benefits!

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Risotto

With Fall here and the abundance of the wonderful gourds available I think about recipes that can utilize these vegetables to the fullest.¬† A few years ago when going out to dinner with my serious foodie crowd, I put up my nose when one friend ordered pumpkin risotto for their main course.¬† We were at one of the city’s most famous Italian restaurants.¬† We would all have a taste of everyone’s main on our bread plates before¬† we started.¬† I was so taken aback that the pumpkin risotto was the best tasting! It was hands down the winning dish!
pumpkinsI have been making it every fall ever since. The flavour is just stunning!  Look for fresh pumpkin already cut and seeded in your grocery store so this recipe is not labour intensive. You would swear that there is butter and cream in this risotto but it is completely absent.  This is partially due to the cooking method as well as the substitution of the classically used arborio rice with CARNAROLI Rice.
It is amazing!¬† If you do use a fresh whole pumpkin keep the shell to serve pumpkin soup (which you can use canned pumpkin to make), steamed mussels, lamb ragout…. the list goes on. The presentation will be stunning for your Thanksgiving table.

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INGREDIENTS
pumpkin-risotto-322Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 1/2 cups carnaroli rice
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup apple cider
4 cups vegetable stock
3 cups diced pumpkin
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
3/4 cup walnut pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated

INSTRUCTIONS
1.  Heat 4 cups of vegetable stock.  Keep warm.
2.  In a large heavy bottomed pan with high sides, heat oil over medium high heat.   Add onion and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.    Sprinkle with salt, about 1/8 teaspoon as the onions become sweet tasting.    This helps to layer the flavours.
3.  Add rice and cook a few minutes longer to coat all rice kernels in oil but not browning.
4. Add wine and stir until it is completely absorbed.
5. Add cider and ladle in hot stock one cup at a time.
6. Add sage and thyme and cook until all liquid is absorbed.
7. Before serving add walnuts, salt and pepper (to taste), olive oil and parmigiano.
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Most chefs will argue the cooking time should be only 18 minutes. It doesn’t sound like a lot but this is what they all claim. A chef’s school instructor told me that the famous chef who’s pumpkin risotto I fell in love with apparently just lets his risotto sit and cook without stirring and at the end he just gives it a toss. So far, I have been too scared to try this as I have put so many good ingredients in it but I will give it a try and give you a play by play report. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† This is an excellent vegetarian dish and if you eliminate the wine and cheese, this would make an excellent vegan dish.

HAT2FOOD TIP: Make sure that you buy edible pumpkins and not the ones that are meant for carving.  Pumpkins belong to the winter squash family along with butternut, acorn, spaghetti and others.  The pumpkins that are grown for eating  ( not carving )  are sugar pumpkins, sweet pumpkins, cheese pumpkins, pie pumpkins and some heirloom varieties.

taste-testTASTE TEST: I baked my pie pumpkin in the oven for 60 minutes at 350F.  After it was baked and cooled I opened a tin of pumpkin puree and tasted both of them.  What a difference!  The tinned pumpkin had a muddy taste while the pie pumpkin tasted like candy!  I will never buy tinned pumpkin again!

didyouknow2Pumpkin has many health benefits. They are a great source of carotene which is one of our major antioxidants that helps to protect us against certain kinds of cancer (particularly lung cancer) as well as heart disease. Pumpkin is rich in carotene which helps to manage blood sugar metabolism and aids in the health of the pancreas. Pumpkin contains many vitamins and minerals. It is helpful in the relief of bronchial asthma. and promote the health of the lungs and throat as well. European folk medicine acknowledges pumpkin as a potent remedy in the treatment of respiratory and digestive ailments.