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The Never-Ending Search for Primal Substitutes: The Rutabaga

In my never ending search for the perfect primal substitutes I recently came across the rutabaga, something to date I’ve seen in the grocery store but never used or eaten. It seems to be a perfect potato substitute. To date, I’ve only used the rutabaga in one preparation, as Potatoes O’Brien  this past Sunday for brunch.  Yummy!

Rutabagas are often thought of as yellow turnips and  belong to the highly prized family of cruciferous vegetables. The rutabaga, a relatively newcomer in the world of vegetables, is thought to have evolved from a cross between a wild cabbage and a turnip. The earliest records of rutabaga’s existence are from the seventeenth century in Southern Europe where they were first eaten as well as used for animal feed. It’s funny that throughout history animals were often fed the healthiest foods, foods thought to be inappropriate for human consumption.  They are relatively low in carbs and check out these nutritional specs.

Rutabaga Nutrition
100 grams or 3 1/2 ounces

Nutrient Cooked Raw
Calories 39 36
Protein 1.3 g 1.2 g
Total Fat .6 g .6 g
% Calories from fat 5.1% 5.0%
Carbohydrates 8.7 g 8.1 g
Fiber 1.8 g 2.5 g
Calcium 48.0 mg 47.0 mg
Copper .04 mg .04 mg
Iron 53 mg .52 mg
Magnesium 23.0 mg 23.0 mg
Manganese .17 mg .17 mg
Phosphorous .57 mg .58 mg
Potassium 326.0 mg 337.0 mg
Selenium .7 mg .7 mg
Sodium 20.0 mg 20.0 mg
Zinc .350 mg .340 mg
Vitamin A 561.0 IU 580.0 IU
Vitamin B1 ­ Thiamine .082 mg .090 mg
Vitamin B2 ­ Riboflavin .041 mg .040 mg
Vitamin B3 ­ Niacin .72 mg .7 mg
Vitamin B6 ­ Pyridoxine .102 mg .100 mg
Vitamin C 18.8 mg 25.0 mg
Vitamin E .15 mg .30 mg
Folate (folic acid) .15 mcg .21 mcg
Pantothenic Acid .155 mg .160 mg
Saturated Fat .03 g .03 g
Monounsaturated Fat .07 g .07 g
Polyunsaturated Fat .04 g .04 g

So despite never seeing anything or reading anything about the rutabaga (other than a preliminary check on carbs to see it it met primal muster – it did) I decided to try and make hash browns or what I grew up calling Potatoes O’Brien.   It was delicious.  I peeled the rutabaga (they are pretty big – a nice size one was enough to serve 2) and started to slice it.  It seemed to be some what hard and “woody” and therefore I figured I would probably have to boil it before frying it. I cut it into a relatively small dice 1/4 – 1/3 inch dice, and this worked out perfectly.

Primal Potatoes O’Brien

Here’s what I did.  You will need (for 2 servings):

  • 1 large rutabaga
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 tbls. butter
  • 1 tbls. olive oil or coconut oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the Potato’s O’Brien:

Place a medium pot filled with water on the stove and bring to a boil.  Meanwhile, peel the Rutabaga with a vegetable peeler or knife and cut into 1/4″ – 1/3″ dice.  When the water comes to a boil place the diced Rutabaga in the water and boil for 10-15 minutes until the Rutabaga is softened.  Drain the Rutabaga well.   Now, place 2-3 tbls of butter and 1 tbls. olive oil in a good non- stick skillet over medium heat.  When the butter/oil mixture starts to bubble, add the diced onion, green pepper and garlic and saute for a few minutes until soft.  Now add the well drained rutabagas.

Saute the rutabaga mixture until well browned.  I found that it took a little longer to brown the rutabaga as compared to potatoes, so be patient (it might be because they have higher water content that needs to steam off).  Don’t disturb the mixture very much and it will brown very nicely.  Just check on it every few minutes.  When the rutabaga is browned to your liking, serve with breakfast or your favorite entree.

I will be trying other methods of preparation, including roasted and mashed.  I might even try grating it raw for a cole-slaw.  I’ll keep you posted and hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did.

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Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 Recipes 1 Comment