When auntie Kemi posted a picture of rutabaga (aka. swede) porridge on her Facebook group so you think you can cook, my first thought was ‘oh hell to the no, no, no’. Heck, that’s a spice, more like the celeriac or celery root I use to cook vegetable ratatouille, spicy autumn soup, rutabaga coleslaw and rutabaga chips amongst other delicious meals. Then I realized that rutabaga is very similar to yam used back home to make porridge. Their flesh is creamy-white in color, and hard to the touch when raw. That’s when I had to admit that Auntie Kemi’s porridge must have been delicious. I had to give it a try.
What is a rutabaga?
Rutabaga, swede, or neep is a root vegetable that belongs to the cabbage family. It was originally grown in Bohemia in the 17th century and it known for its partly white and partly purple skin, its creamy orange flesh with a nutty and very mildly sweet flavor. Like all cruciferous vegetables, rutabagas are high in antioxidant and anti-cancer compounds. But the one nutrient that stands out is the high amount of vitamin. One cup of rutabaga contains 53% of the daily recommended vitamin C value, providing antioxidants and immune system-supporting functions that help protect the cells from free radical damage. Here’s a breakdown of rutabaga’s calorie content.
How to cook rutabaga porridge
This veggie can be cooked like any cruciferous vegetable by boiling, sauteing, baking or frying. It can even be eaten raw as a snack. Cooking rutabaga releases a sweet yet savory flavor almost like the flavor of a golden-yellow Irish potato. Wait! Don’t start rejoicing just yet. If you are on a low-carb diet, it will warm your heart to know that cooking reduces the starch (carbohydrate) content of this vegetable. Oya dab!
Auntie Kemi’s Kitchen Tip:
Swede is so hard to cut. A little trick. I buy ahead and leave for about a week in a bag. Gets softer and easier to cook.
Other ways to use rutabaga to slash carbohydrates and calories for a healthy meal is to used it in instead of Irish potatoes in Irish one-pot (Irish potatoes stewed in tomatoes and bell peppers) or make some rutabaga ‘french fries’. For my squishy rutabaga porridge, I went all the way to Cameroon.
We usually made plantain or yam porridge with lots of dry fish and bitter leaf which inspired the creation of this vegetable version of porridge. Can rutabaga be found in Cameroon or Nigeria? You may be asking yourself. To be honest, I don’t know. I’ll have to find that out and update you guys but I honestly did not see my mom using this veggie to cook. I might be mistaken, though.
Would you let me know if you have cooked with it and where to find it in your area? This may help some other readers. Thank you for your feedback in the comment area below.
Let’s get right to cooking.
- 1 rutabaga root
- 2 small schalots or 1 onion
- 1 cup dried bitterleaf, soaked
- or 2 full hands fresh bitterleaf, washed
- 1 large dry fish of choice
- 1 habanero pepper
- 1 tsp. white pepper
- 1 fresh tomato, de-seeded
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1/2 leeks
- 1/2 thumb-size ginger
- 1/2 cup palm oil
- About 750ml to 1 litre of water
- Seasoning cube and salt to taste
- Wash the rutabaga thoroughly to remove any dirt.
- Put the rutabaga on a cutting board and, using a sharp knife, slice it in half. Peel the skin and cut into large cubes.
- Blend all ingredients into a fine paste.
- Add the rutabaga and ground ingredients into a pot, add water, seasoning cubes, and palm oil and boil until almost cooked.
- Then add bitter leaf and dry fish. If your fish is to dry or hard, soak it in water overnight or boil it and use the stock to cook the porridge.
- Cook until you have the desired consistency of rutabaga. If you want squishy porridge, let the rutabaga cook for even longer.
- Serve hot.
- Tomato will help thicken your porridge and also give it that red color so you don't have to add too much palm oil. You can omitt it if you wish.
- You are free to use your favorite spices for this dish.
- Swede is so hard to cut. A little trick. I buy ahead and leave for about a week in a bag. Gets softer and easier to cook.