Spicy Rutabaga Ricotta Casserole


The Rutabaga, I’ve recently learned from a fellow Springdellian, is sometimes referred to as a wax turnip.  According to the New Whole Foods Encyclopedia, it is also called a Swede or Swedish Turnip.  This member of the brascia family is actually believed to be a direct cross between a cabbage and a turnip!  It has a milder taste that is sweeter than its large turnip relative.  They are a great veggie for strengthening digestion and, unlike turnips, rutabagas also contain vitamin A.

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As I’ve mentioned in a previous post about turnips, I grew up associating the large root veggies with an off-putting bitter taste.  Since being re-introduced to them over the years in my CSA, my impressions have taken a 360.  If the rutabaga is an off-putting vegetable for you, I hope you’ll also consider giving it a try.  Take a taste of a thin raw slice and you may find it quite reminiscent of a carrot, with a subtle sweetness and fresh crunch.  Boiling it until crisp tender can produce a nice potato alternative as well (a Fellow Springdellian mentioned boiling it in broth rather than water, a great idea!)

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In general, roasting a root vegetable is my favorite option.  I find it tends to enhance the natural sweetness and flavor of the veggie.

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I was hoping to breathe some life into the first parsley of the season, which Jamie indicated was almost destined for the sheep as it was shocked coming out of the high tunnel after the cold winter.  I found a delicious looking recipe for Spicy Scalloped Rutabagas with Parsley and decided to try it.  Prepping the parsley as this recipe calls for seemed to draw out some of the aromas and flavor.  I still have a small bag of jalapeños in my freezer from the Springdell Summer CSA, and used some of those as well.  I replaced the shallots with a small onion and aside from the salt, pepper, and sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, this dish was 100 percent Springdell CSA.

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After sautéing the onions, garlic and jalapeños, I added the broth and reduced it as the original recipe stated. I then crossed the recipe with a standard gratin, omitting the heavy cream and substituting milk and the share box ricotta.  The original version with heavy cream must be divine, but it was nice working with what I had on hand in the kitchen and from the farm.  The ricotta/milk mixture produced something a little more lumpy and a little less creamy, but still very tasty!

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If I had it to do over again, I might have layered more ricotta in the center layer and less of the mixture on the top, as I found myself “rationing” the mixture when eating it. This was a great side but could be easily have been made into a full meal with a layer of browned ground beef, egg or tofu mixed in the center layer.  

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A little sprinkle of Parmesan and a couple of minutes under the broiler and it was ready to eat!  

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My husband went back for seconds, stating, “it is delicious.  Please don’t tell me what’s in it.” 

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Spicy Rutabaga Ricotta Casserole
This is a yummy side dish that could easily be transformed into a main course with a little added protein. See notes below for ideas, or, as always, make it your own!
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Ingredients
  1. 2 large rutabagas, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
  2. 1/2 pound flat-leaf parsley, large stems discarded
  3. 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  4. 1 small onion, slivered thinly
  5. 2 large jalapeño peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
  6. 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  7. salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  8. 1 cup chicken stock or broth (veggie broth is good for a vegetarian option)
  9. 1 1/2 cups fresh ricotta cheese
  10. 1/2 cup milk
  11. 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Boil and salt a large pot of water. Carefully toss in rutabaga slices and boil for 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and continue to boil the water, tossing in the parsley next. Boil the parsley for 3-4 minutes before carefully removing, draining (squeeze to remove as much water as possible) and then chopping.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat before adding butter, and melt. Add the garlic, jalapeños and onion to the pan and stir until tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the broth/stock, bring to a boil and allow the liquid to about half. Whisk the milk and ricotta together before adding to the pan. Stir and continue to reduce for another 5 minutes. Add the parsley and continue to stir until things thicken a little more and very little liquid is left. Salt and pepper the mixture to taste.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a glass baking dish (I used an 8X11.5inch pan, the original recipe calls for a 10X15 inch pan)
  5. Using half of the rutabaga slices, arrange them in an single layer in your dish. Evenly add half of your ricotta mixture on top of the slices before topping with the remaining rutabaga slices, then add the remaining ricotta mixture.
  6. Cover the dish with foil and put it in your preheated oven.
  7. Bake for 1 hour, remove foil.
  8. Sprinkle your Parmesan cheese over the rutabagas and broil for 2 minutes (6 inches from the broiler flame) until the top is browned.
Notes
  1. If using frozen jalapeños, make sure you half the amount you use (spicy frozen peppers tend to get 2 times spicier when frozen).
  2. To make it a full meal, brown some ground beef, egg or tofu for the middle layer, stirring in to half of the reserved ricotta mixture before adding.
Adapted from Marcia Kiesel's Spicy Scalloped Rutabagas with Parsley
CSA|365 https://www.csa365.org/

About Jess

Jess Anderson is the creator of CSA|365 and is passionate about the local food movement. A long time member of Springdell and a busy mother of two, Jess loves keeping her family fed by honest local food.

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