The rutabaga (from an old Swedish dialectal word), swede (from Swedish turnip), is a root vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip. The roots are prepared for human consumption in a variety of ways, and the leaves can be eaten as a leaf vegetable. The roots and tops are also used as winter feed for livestock, when they may be fed directly, or by allowing the animals to forage the plants in the field. Various European countries have a tradition of carving them into lanterns at Halloween.
Finns cook rutabaga in a variety of ways: roasted, baked, boiled, as a flavor enhancer in soups, uncooked and thinly julienned as a side dish or in a salad, and as the major ingredient in the popular Christmas dish lanttulaatikko (swede casserole). Finns use rutabaga in most dishes that call for any root vegetable.
In Sweden and Norway, rutabaga is cooked with potato and sometimes carrot, and mashed with butter and either stock or, occasionally, milkor cream, to create a puree called rotmos (Swedish, literally: root mash) or kålrabistappe (Norwegian). Onion is occasionally added. In Norway, kålrabistappe is an obligatory accompaniment to many festive dishes, including smalahove, pinnekjøtt, raspeball and salted herring. In Sweden, rotmos is often eaten together with cured and boiled ham hock, accompanied by mustard. This classic Swedish dish is called fläsklägg med rotmos. In Wales, a similar mash produced using just potato and rutabaga is known as ponsh maip in the north east of the country, as mwtrin on the Llyn peninsula and as stwnsh rwden in other parts.
In The Netherlands, rutabaga is traditionally served boiled, mashed and a smoked worst (sausage) served alongside. The dish is usually called Stamppot, but turnip can also be used in the Hutspot dish as well.
In Scotland, potato and rutabaga are boiled and mashed separately to produce “tatties and neeps” (“tatties” being the Scots word for potatoes), traditionally served with the Scottish national dish of haggis as the main course of a Burns supper. Neeps may also be mashed with carrots or potatoes to make a dish called clapshot. Regional variations include the addition of onion to clapshot in Orkney. Neeps are also extensively used in soups and stews.
In England, swede is boiled together with carrots and served either mashed or pureed with butter and ground pepper. The flavored cooking water is often retained for soup, or as an addition to gravy. Swede is an essential vegetable component of the traditional Welsh lamb broth called cawl and Irish stew as eaten in England. Swede is also a component of the popular condiment Branston Pickle. The swede is also one of the four traditional ingredients of the pasty originating in Cornwall.
In Canada they are considered winter vegetables, as along with similar vegetables they are able to be kept in a cold area or cellar for several months. They are primarily used as a side dish. They are also used as filler in foods such as mincemeat and Christmas cake.
In the US, rutabaga is mostly eaten as part of stews or casseroles, served mashed with carrots, or baked in a pasty. They are frequently found in the New England boiled dinner.