Adventures with Rutabaga

This is the story of a girl, an Instacart order, and two giant rutabagas. It begins with a craving for pot roast and evolves into the most exciting thing that has happened in a year – minus the birth of my niece, moving to Ottawa, and starting grad school…huh, it’s been a busy pandemic.

Recently, my roommate and I decided we would alternate making “fancy” dinners for each other on Wednesdays. These would mostly be recipes we loved but weren’t possible to break down for only one person, like, for example, pot roast. I would make pot roast for my family in Winnipeg all the time but hadn’t made it in Ontario because I wasn’t inclined to eat a week’s worth of leftovers. So armed with a coupon and inherent laziness, I placed an Instacart order for all the necessary ingredients and had my groceries delivered to my apartment. I trudged down the three flights of stairs to gather the bags from the lobby and couldn’t understand what I had bought that was so damn heavy as I carried them up to my apartment. 

Imagine my surprise to find rutabagas the size of pumpkins; my Instacart shopper either hadn’t known or hadn’t cared that these were larger-than-normal veggies and had purchased almost 5 kgs of rutabaga. I do not exaggerate when I say that these genuinely looked like decapitated heads sitting in a grey Wal-Mart bag on my floor. So, I did what any millennial would do: I took snaps, sent them to my friends, then took to the internet to find rutabaga recipes. And so began the Great Rutabaga Feast of February.

It took me almost forty minutes to cut and peel the first rutabaga. My knife got stuck multiple times and I would gingerly pry it loose, wary of slicing off a finger – which, with my klutziness, was a real risk (re: the prominent scar on my thumb from cutting sweet potatoes). Once cut, I used about a third of it in the pot roast, and the rest barely fit in a large ziplock bag. At this point, rutabaga recipe hunting was my new hobby. I hate food waste, and I was determined to use every gram of that rutabaga in some way.

If you had told me that at twenty-six, in grad school, and living in a new city, that a bumping Saturday night would involve me grating rutabaga for two hours, I would have asked if you were high. And yet, there I was, jamming out to a country playlist and trying not to grate my fingers (and only mostly succeeding). My roommate walked into the kitchen, saw the chaotic mess of root vegetables, then promptly hid in her bedroom until I was done. Well, until I made her come out and try some rutabaga hash browns (which, surprisingly good).

By far, the most successful recipe from the rutabaga test kitchen was this Orange Veggie Spice Cake. Now, before you run screaming for the hills over rutabaga in dessert, it really isn’t that different from using carrots or zucchini, and the rutabaga almost completely dissolves into the crumb. This recipe is very, very delicious, and it was easy enough that I ended up making it twice and sharing it amongst some friends. 

After rutabaga in pot roast, rutabaga hash browns, and rutabaga cake, I had finally used up the first rutabaga. We were a week into eating rutabaga every day, and that second one taunted me from the kitchen counter. Not going to lie, I was kind of over it. But one mustn’t admit defeat. I grabbed the biggest knife I have, sliced and diced (luckily not my fingers), and deferred to a classic pan of roasted veggies. Which, of course, turned out to be one of the better preparations (and my roommate’s favourite).

If you’re still with me at this point, I appreciate you sticking along for the ride. I am well aware that rutabaga adventures are as lame as it sounds. Still, amidst the chaos of school work, the pandemic, missing family, and every other anxiety-inducing scenario currently unfolding, it was nice to focus on a trivial crisis. This accidental Instacart purchase turned into a weird anecdote to throw into conversations and made me laugh more than once. 

Plus, I picked up some fun new recipes, though I won’t be buying rutabaga again for a very, very long time.

For your pleasure, here are some rejected titles for this piece:
Rooting for Rutabaga
Putting the Swede in Sweet Jesus
Turnip For What

In an unrelated note, we may start outsourcing our titles.

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