Winter Vegetables: Spotlight on Swedes
In this post, we shine a spotlight on Swedes (the vegetable, not the people).
Swedes (more commonly called ‘rutabaga’ in North America) are one of the most underrated vegetables. They’re a great source of vitamin C and contain a high level of dietary fibre. Swedes are also famous for their sweet and delicate flavour, which matches many dishes. Plus they have a great texture and distinct colours of half purple and half cream.
Swedes are known as winter vegetables as they are only available to cold regions. In Australia, you can sow Swedes from February until November which is the best time for the colder temperature swedes require. Some of the best stores offering swede seeds are Diggers Club, Yates Seeds, and Eden Seeds.
Some confuse a swede for a turnip, and while they are similar there are many differences between the two vegetables. First, swedes are much bigger than turnips – they can be as large as a shoe, while turnips are usually smaller, they can be the size of a golf ball. Turnips also have smooth skin compared to swedes which have a rough texture. Taste-wise, turnips have a peppery taste, whereas swedes are sweeter and have an after-taste due to its strong earthy flavour.
Below is a great recipe from www.taste.com.au
Potato & swede cottage pie
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 large brown onion, halved, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 700g beef mince
- 2 Massel beef style stock cubes, crumbled
- 125ml (1/2 cup) boiling water
- 1 x 420g can whole peeled tomatoes
- 95g (1/3 cup) tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1/3 cup loosely packed coarsely chopped fresh continental parsley leaves
- Pinch of salt
- 3 large (about 600g) coliban potatoes, peeled, cut into 2cm cubes
- 1 (about 300g) swede, peeled, cut into 2cm cubes
- 80ml (1/3 cup) warm milk
- 40g butter
- Step 1 Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until the onion softens. Add mince and cook, stirring to break up any lumps, for 5 minutes or until mince changes colour.
- Step 2 Place stock cubes in a heatproof jug and pour over boiling water. Stir until stock cubes dissolve. Add to mince with tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Uncover and cook for a further 30 minutes or until sauce thickens. Remove from heat, stir in parsley and season with salt. Spoon mince into 6 rectangular, 500ml (2-cup) capacity shallow ovenproof dishes.
- Step 3 Meanwhile, place the potato and swede in a steaming basket over a saucepan of simmering water. Steam for 10 minutes or until tender (see microwave tip).
- Step 4 Preheat grill on high. Transfer potato to a bowl. Add milk and half the butter. Use a potato masher to mash until smooth. Spoon mashed potato over beef mixture. Dot with remaining butter. Cook under preheated grill, about 10cm from the heat source, for 5 minutes or until golden. Serve immediately.
One fact that you should know about Swedes is that they are extremely hard in preparation. Many injuries come from preparing vegetables like swedes or turnips due to the difficulty of chopping them. But don’t be scared! Choosing bigger, stronger knives and use a solid surface to cut them on. It’s well worth it once tasted.