Rutabaga is a root vegetable, similar to cabbage and turnips. One of the most commonly asked questions is regarding rutabaga substitutes. While many love the taste of this mild and slightly bitter vegetable, others prefer something sweeter and more savory.
So we’ve come up with a list of the best rutabaga substitutes out there. You can use these as actual substitutes, or add them right next to the rutabagas.
Best rutabaga substitutes
The best rutabaga substitutes include turnips, kohlrabi, celery root, daikon and broccoli stems. However, the most similar substitute would be turnips. Turnips not only have a similar texture, but taste as well. This makes them the overall best choice. Nevertheless, if you only have the other options available, they will make do.
Let’s break down each substitute, their flavors, their textures, appearance, and ability to replace rutabaga in various dishes. A viable substitute should always mimic essential components of the original. None of the following substitutes stray too far from rutabaga and all work well in popular dishes.
Read also: What Do Rutabagas Taste Like?
Turnips are a root vegetable that can be prepared in many different ways. They are included in the mustard family. The edible parts of this vegetable include both bulb, taproot and greens. Originally harvested in East Asia, turnips became commonly cultivated in the Roman Empire.
Nowadays, turnips are planted, grown and harvested in temperate climates. Mature turnips will have a thicker, coarser skin, while younger turnips will have a softer, more delicate skin. Turnips reach their maturity in the fall, but are sweet and young in the spring.
Nonetheless, they can be enjoyed during any season. Not only can these delicious root veggies be steamed, baked, roasted, glazed and mashed, they can also be eaten raw! They are easy to slice into your salad and cut into wedges with a dip. Similar to rutabaga’s greens, turnip greens can be sautéed for an easy side dish. Turnips should be firm when buying and kept cool in the refrigerator.
Kohlrabi is a lesser known part of the cabbage family. The flavor of kohlrabi is sweet and peppery. It is similar to another substitute on this list, broccoli stems, which we will get to later.
All of kohlrabi is edible, however the bulb is most commonly eaten. The inside of kohlrabi is white, while the outside skin can come in many colors including green, purple and white. Kohlrabi is easy to add into soups and casseroles in replacement of rutabaga.
The taste profile of kohlrabi is milder and does not contain the bitterness commonly found in rutabaga. This makes it a win-win alternative that will enhance your dishes. Always remember to buy kohlrabi that is firm. If the vegetable is soft, it will not last in your refrigerator and spoil quickly. Fresh kohlrabi should easily store for a week or more.
Celery root is also known as celeriac. This vegetable is actually not the root of the celery stalks you buy at the grocery store. Instead, celeriac is a separate root, grown specifically for its vegetable. You can easily purchase celery root year-round, making it a viable and practical substitute for rutabaga.
Celery root pairs well with stews and cooked dishes. It is also tasty when eaten raw, finely sliced/ chopped with nuts, apples and pears. It can even be used in a slaw when shredded with carrots. Sautéed, puréed, sliced or roasted, celery root is a versatile ingredient to have on hand.
When preparing, peel away the skin with a sharp knife until no more brown is left. The inside color is white. Similar to all other root vegetables, it should be firm upon purchase to maximize freshness. It should also be free of blemishes and feel heavy for its size.
Read also: How To Store Celery Root
Daikon is a root vegetable commonly referred to as white radish or Japanese radish. Daikon originated in East Asia and is native to the region. It is used often in Asian cuisine and is the most consumed vegetable in Japan. While they are not synonymous, daikon and radish are very similar.
Red radish has a sharp and potent flavor while daikon is sweeter and milder. In addition to daikon, there are white radishes known as Korean radish. Korean radish has a rounder appearance, with a white exterior. Furthermore, Chinese radish, also known as watermelon radish, has a bright pink interior.
Daikon can be found at almost any grocery store and looks like a plump carrot. Not only can it be easily chopped for steaming, it can also be simmered or roasted. This vegetable can be eaten raw when finely shredded on a salad, soup or simply as a garnish.
Maximizing freshness is key as you should only buy firm, solid daikon to store in your refrigerator for up to two weeks. It makes for an ideal rutabaga substitute.
Broccoli stems are equally as nutritious as broccoli heads and have a bounty of flavor. Too often these nutritious stems get thrown away and only the florets are used. Broccoli stems can be used in a wide variety of dishes and are a great substitute to rutabaga.
They can be cooked in a variety of ways. Some of the most popular ways to use broccoli stems are in a stir fry, veggie stock, soup, salad, raw or even fermented. Next time you buy a delicious green brunch, don’t forget to make use of the hearty stems.
Choosing the best
When it comes to substituting rutabaga, there is one cardinal rule above all others… Fresh is best! Crisp, natural and delicious produce should be the most important factor when substituting any vegetable. Make sure to find the freshest turnips, kohlrabi, celery root, daikon or broccoli stems next time your recipe calls for rutabaga.
Since these substitutes are so closely related, the same quantity can be used in the recipe. For example, if your recipe calls for 1.5 cups of chopped rutabaga, you can use 1.5 cups of chopped turnips.
Choosing local, fresh, natural vegetables will enhance any meal and compliment the dish’s flavor profile. From farm to table, rutabaga substitutes are delectable, savory and easy to prepare!
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