"True wine enthusiasts don’t collect wines.
They collect memories of wines shared with friends and family."

-Dario Zucconi

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Rutabagas: Who Knew This Root Vegetable Was So Versatile and Delicious!

Today, I was inspired yet again at the Farmers' Market. I was standing in front of one of the stands at the Lake Merritt Farmers' Market this morning. In front of me were all kinds of green, leafy vegetables -- different varieties of kales, collard greens, chards, etc.  Next to them were different colored beets (reds, yellows), parsnips, turnips and something that I was not too familiar with -- Rutabagas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rutabaga).  I asked the Farmer what the difference was between the turnips and the Rutabagas. A lady next to me said that Rutabagas are a little sweeter than, and not as bitter as, turnips.  She said that she sometimes mixes the Rutabagas with potatoes and makes au gratin rutabaga and potatoes. I thought to myself: "Interesting!" She said give it a try. I said "I will."

Well, tonight I decided to give it a try.  I gotta say, that is a very healthy alternative to pure potato au gratin, which can be overly starchy.  Knowing me, I experimented with something else.  I decided to add some chopped purple Kales that I also got from the Farmers' Market to the au gratin dish for some added color and texture. 

Rutabagas in raw form.                                                  Purple Kales . . .
                                                                                       Really cheap at the
                                                                                      Farmers' Market

Here's the way I prepared it:

2 Rutabagas (unpeeled, with roots and leaves removed, sliced thin)
1 pound of mixed Yukon gold and red potatoes (sliced thin)
1/2 cup of chopped red onions
1 cup of shredded Gruyère cheese
1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
4-5 branches of Kales  -- about 1/3 of a bunch (chopped)
salt and pepper to taste

Butter the bottom of a Pyrex or ceramic baking dish. Arrange a layer of sliced Rutabagas on the bottom of the dish. Spread some onions on top of the Rutabagas. Arrange a layer of sliced potatoes. Season with salt and pepper (to taste). Add some more onions. Add some shredded cheese.  Add 1/2 of the chopped Kale.  Repeat the layering (Rutabagas, onions, potatoes, salt and pepper, onions, [this time] Kale, then cheese).  Add the cream. Cover with foil. Bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes (or until vegetables are soft).

Serve with your favorite protein. Enjoy with your favorite wine. For us, we had it with some stuffed pork chops (stuffed with a mixture of dried prunes and blue cheese).  Patrick and I enjoyed a glass of Duckhorn's 2008 Merlot that our friends, Chris and Karla, gave Patrick for his birthday. This Merlot is thoroughly enjoyable. It's actually a blend of 86% Merlot, 9.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3.5% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc. If you thought you didn't like Merlots (Patrick and I didn't think we did), you're in for a big surprise!

If you haven't visited Duckhorn winery in Napa, we highly recommend it. Until you get a chance to enjoy their wines at the winery, you can always buy a bottle of their Decoy wine (which is delicious and can be purchased at Safeway).  Decoy is a Bordeaux style red wine blend containing 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot that you can purchase for under $20.00.  I don't believe you can purchase their other varietals in the stores.

Have a wonderful weekend. Until next time . . . Cheers!


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