Mashed rutabaga, loaded with bacon, cheese and green onions, is a healthy but delicious low-carb alternative to mashed potatoes.
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Rutabaga. I can’t say I’ve cooked a whole lot with rutabagas, but it’s one of those words that is fun to say, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, this vegetable doesn’t get a lot of respect. I can’t say I’ve ever met anyone that was excited about rutabaga season. I imagine this is because most people have only had them prepared one way – boiled until completely void of any texture, taste, or nutrients.
Case in point, as I’m unloading my produce in the checkout lane last week, the lady ringing up my groceries picks up my rutabaga and begins to examine it.
“What is this?”
Says The Husband enthusiastically, “It’s a rutabaga.” He thinks rutabaga is fun to say too. He was just hoping the checkout lady would ask so he could say the word rutabaga.
The checkout lady raised her eyebrows and lets out a, “Hmmph. It’s been a long time since I had rutabaga. I remember eating it when I was a little girl and I’d go over to my grandmama’s house.”
“I’ve never had it,” The Husband piped up.
“Really?” Then she looks at me. “You must know how to prepare it then.”
I was caught a little off guard because before this recipe I had never actually cooked a rutabaga. But before I could answer, The Husband says, “We read it’s a healthier alternative for potatoes.”
The checkout lady laughed. “Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve had rutabaga, but it sure don’t taste like no potato.” Well, geez . . .
I only wish I could have taken one of these ramekins to the checkout lady at the grocery store. Grandmama obviously never prepared them like this.
What is a rutabaga?
A rutabaga is a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. Honestly, once you get to know rutabagas, they are actually quite friendly. They are LOADED with nutrients, easy to store, keep for a long time, and if you are on a low-carb diet, really do make an excellent alternative to mashed potatoes.
The texture more closely resembles a potato – more so, I think, than cauliflower. They are also slightly sweet which I think only enhanced the flavor of the dish once you combine it with the rest of the ingredients. Finally, they are very filling. The first time I made this, I cooked it in a slightly larger ramekin and The Husband and I could only eat half.
Cut the rutabaga
I prepped this in a way similar to when I make twice-baked potatoes. Raw rutabagas have a similar texture to raw potatoes – crunchy. Like a potato, we will need to precook them first.
I find it’s quicker and easier to cut the rutabaga into chunks and steam, rather than bake. Baking can take forever! Chopping into a whole rutabaga can be a little difficult at first. You’ll need a good, sharp chef’s knife. I usually have to make that first cut by placing my knife into the flesh of the rutabaga, then bang it on a cutting board until my knife gets all the way through. Once I’ve cut it in half, it’s easier to cut into sections. Rutabagas have a tough peel and most produce distributors coat them in a thin layer of wax. You don’t want to eat that. Use a knife or a vegetable peeler and cut all of that right off.
Steam the Rutabaga
There are three ways you can steam the rutabaga – on a stovetop, a microwave, or in an Instant Pot. For stovetop, you will need a steamer basket. Place a few inches of water in the bottom of a pot that the basket will fit in. You do not want the water to touch or seep into the steamer basket. Bring the water to a boil, then fit the steamer basket into the pot and place the cubed rutabaga in the basket. Cover and steam for 25-35 minutes until the rutabaga is fork tender, or you can easily stab it with a fork and the chunk slides right back off.
To microwave, place a few inches of water in a microwave safe bowl large enough to hold all the rutabaga pieces. Place the rutabaga in the bowl and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Microwave for three minutes, carefully stir, replace the lid or plastic wrap, and microwave for three additional minutes. Let it rest for five minutes before removing the lid. If the rutabagas are not fork tender, repeat until they are.
I prefer using my Instant Pot. Place the rutabaga chunks in the metal insert. Add one cup of water (you could also use chicken broth for more flavor). Seal the lid, press MANUAL, and set the timer for six minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally or manually release.
Mash the Rutabaga
While the rutabaga is still warm, go ahead and mash it. You can use a potato masher; however, this can leave lumps, so after I give it an initial mash I like to run it through my food mill. A slightly cheaper alternative to a food mill would be a potato ricer. Once you mashed the rutabaga, transfer it to a mixing bowl.
To the mashed rutabaga, add four slices of cooked chopped bacon, two tablespoons of softened unsalted butter, one teaspoon of garlic powder and ½ cup of heavy cream or whole milk. Next, add two sliced green onions and 1 ½ cups of shredded cheddar cheese. Stir everything together. Now is a good time to taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to your preference.
Spoon the rutabaga mixture into (4) six-ounce ramekins. If you prefer, you can also bake it in a small casserole dish. Top each ramekin with a little more shredded cheddar cheese. Then bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until the cheddar on top is melted and bubbly.
Mashed Rutabaga can be made a couple days in advance. Unlike certain produce such as potatoes or apples, rutabagas do not turn brown when exposed to air. Simply follow the recipe instructions up until the point you are ready to bake. Then cover the unbaked casserole and place it in the refrigerator. Remove the cover just before baking and follow the instructions as written.
How to Store Leftover Mashed Rutabaga
Allow the baked mashed rutabaga to cool before placing it in the fridge. But do make sure any leftovers are stored away within two hours. Mashed rutabaga should be consumed within five days.
Mashed rutabagas can also be frozen for up to six months. Additional liquid may accumulate after the rutabaga thaws. Because of this, I recommend freezing it without the additional shredded cheese on the top. You’ll want to give the mash a good stir first to mix in the liquid. Then you can top with the cheese and bake.
What to Serve with Mashed Rutabaga with Bacon and Cheddar Cheese
- Roast Chicken
- Pot Roast
- Wild Rice Stuffed Turkey Breast
- Oven Roasted Roast Beef Dinner
- Pesto Rice Stuffed Pork Loin Chops
Mashed Rutabaga with Bacon and Cheddar Cheese
- 1 (2 lb.) rutabaga peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 slices cooked bacon chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 sliced green onions plus more for garnish
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese divided
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place rutabaga in a large microwavable bowl. Add 2-3 tablespoons of water to the bowl. Cover loosely with a lid or plastic wrap and microwave on high about 3 minutes. Stir the rutabaga, cover again, and microwave for 4 more minutes or until rutabaga is fork tender.
- Mash rutabaga using a potato masher or ricer.
- Add the bacon, butter, garlic powder, and heavy cream.
- Add the green onions and 1 ½ cups of the cheese. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
- Spoon the rutabaga mixture into (4) six-ounce ramekins. Top each with the remaining cheddar cheese. Bake for 20 minutes until the cheddar on top is melted and bubbly.
- Garnish with additional green onions if desired