Rutabagas and turnips. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

While rutabagas and turnips are abundantly available in grocery stores and can keep through the winter months with proper storage, home cooks might be intimidated by these large, lumpy, purplish roots.

They shouldn’t be.

These vegetables are just as delicious and versatile as other popular winter produce, like potatoes.

But first, you need to know which is which. Despite popular perception, rutabagas and turnips are not the same thing. Although they are both members of the brassica family, the rutabaga is a hybrid of a turnip and a cabbage. While both have purplish tops, rutabaga has tinged yellow flesh while turnips are mostly white. Turnips are also smaller, as they are best when harvested when they are the size of a tennis ball (any larger, and the root tastes woody). Rutabagas can grow much larger without compromising flavor.

Rutabagas also have a waxy skin and a pungent smell, which can intimidate some people. By following a few simple steps (and having a nice, sharp peeler), you can easily prepare rutabaga and start cooking with them.

Turnips are also usually sold with their greens, which are tasty when prepared correctly, while rutabaga greens are less palatable (though some adventurous gardeners will use their hairy rutabaga greens in salads and the like).

When it comes to the root itself, rutabagas are slightly sweeter than turnips, but they can both be used in a number of different ways in the kitchen. The easiest way to prepare rutabagas and turnips is to simply roast them — toss them in olive oil, salt, pepper and any other spices you want, and roast for 15 to 20 minutes in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit until tender — but you can get more creative. Here are a few recipes that use rutabagas and turnips to prepare and enjoy.

Mashed rutabagas

If you like mashed potatoes, you’ll love mashed rutabagas. This underrated root vegetable has a sweetness that makes for a delicious mash. Check out this recipe for mashed rutabagas from The Spruce Eats for your new favorite side dish.

Creamy turnip soup

Bright, starchy turnips make for a delicious soup, the perfect way to get through the winter. You won’t believe that this recipe for creamy turnip soup from EatingWell only has one tablespoon of butter because it tastes so decadent, so don’t feel bad about licking up the last drops.

Carrot-turnip slaw

This tangy slaw with a kick of horseradish is a delightful twist on a classic coleslaw that takes advantage of the delicious root vegetables available in the winter. Make this carrot-turnip slaw as a bright side dish to any of your cold-weather favorites.

Turnip dhal

Do you love Indian food, but miss your local takeout joint? Try this twist on a classic Indian dhal that features tangy turnips from Veggie Jam to bring those flavors home. Lentils and spices are essential, but turnips really take it to a whole new level.

Rutabaga hummus

Roasted vegetables are perfect for making into hummus. Fluffy, creamy roasted rutabaga makes classic hummus a little sweeter, but just as delicious. You can even serve it with raw rutabaga “chips.” Check out this recipe for rutabaga hummus from Simple Bites.

Hasselback rutabagas

You may have heard of hasselback potatoes as a crispy, aesthetically pleasing upgrade to the classic baked potato, but you can also prepare hasselback rutabagas with a similarly delicious effect. Try this recipe for hasselback rutabaga with garlic butter sauce from SheKnows to see for yourself.

Turnip and potato patties

Part pancake, part fritter, this recipe for turnip and potato patties from Simply Recipes highlights the sharp freshness of turnips alongside the scrumptious starchiness of potatoes. Once you make one batch, you’re sure to make another.

Rutabaga fries

A slightly healthier twist on a fried classic, these oven-baked rutabaga fries are sure to satisfy. Use this recipe for rutabaga oven fries from AllRecipes for a simple, tasty way to snack on this delicious root vegetable.

Boiled dinner & Red Flannel Hash

Rutabagas add an extra level of sweetness alongside other winter vegetables like carrots and potatoes in a classic boiled dinner. Then, the next morning, you can take those leftovers and toss them in a griddle for a scrumptious morning hash. This multi-purpose recipe for boiled dinner and Red Flannel Hash will be delicious for dinner and for breakfast.

Turnip and kale gratin

This cheesy, creamy turnip and kale gratin recipe from Bon Appetit will warm your soul and fill your belly. You can even swap out the kale for the turnip greens if you would like to use the whole root.

Rutabaga nutmeg cake

Rutabaga may not seem like a natural choice for dessert, but this tasty cake is similar to carrot cake in preparation and consistency, except it takes advantage of rutabaga’s natural sweetness. Hazelnuts take this tasty dessert over the edge. This recipe for rutabaga nutmeg cake from Veggie Desserts is sure to surprise you.

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