Did you know that swede is a key ingredient in Branston pickle? This unfriendly-looking root vegetable (also known as rutabaga) has a sweet nutty flavour and a texture that’s a cross between a carrot and a turnip.
Small swedes are sweeter than larger ones and cook quicker. Bigger swedes can occasionally develop a bitter flavour and tougher texture but this can be remedied with a longer cook and a dash of sugar. Much like potatoes or other types of root veg, swede can be boiled, roasted, steamed or air-fried. It’s also brilliant for slow cooking and braising in casseroles and hotpots.
Prep your swede by cutting off the root, peeling the skin and chopping into pieces ready for cooking.
Boiled and steamed swede
To boil, put the chopped swede into a pan of boiling water and cook until tender (about 15 minutes depending on the size of the chunks) before draining. It takes the same amount of time to cook swede in a steamer. The steaming process helps retain the colour, texture and nutrient content of the swede because, unlike boiling, nothing escapes into the water.
This microwave trick eliminates the need for peeling and chopping. Simply pop a whole swede in a bowl and microwave it for about 20 minutes (turning it over once during cooking). Once cooked, chop off the top and scoop out the soft flesh. Easy! Mash it with butter and herbs, combine with potato and carrots as a topping on Shepherd’s pie and veggie bakes or serve under sausages. You can even shape the same mixture into logs or patties and coat in egg and breadcrumbs before deep frying for croquettes and veggie burgers.
Coat cubes, batons or wedges of peeled swede in a little oil and some seasonings before roasting in a moderate oven for 30-40 minutes. These delicious morsels make a great side but are also yummy in warm salads. Why not grate some raw slivers of swede onto your salad too for a sweet crunch?
Casseroles and stews
Just like carrots and turnips, swede can be added raw to stews and casseroles as they simmer. They soak up the meaty juices in bubbling beef stews and release their sweetness into the gravy as they cook.
Diced swede lends Cornish pasties a delicious flavour and bite. Combine them with minced beef, potatoes, onions, salt and pepper to make a traditional filling before piling the lot onto buttery circles of shortcrust pastry and sealing.
If you’ve got a tough swede and cutting it into chunks feels like a mission, try slicing it thinly with a mandoline. Layer up the slices with potato, cream and seasonings in a dish before oven baking for a root veg dauphinoise.
Slice your swede lengthways into chips, coat in oil, garlic powder and paprika before air frying to make swede fries! Alternatively, lay them out on a baking tray and bake until tender in the middle and crispy on the outside. Another idea is to parboil them and while still hot, roll them in a mixture of flour and parmesan before baking on a tray with a knob of melted butter.
Make a series of cuts along your swede about three quarters of the way down without slicing through to the bottom. Slather melted butter onto each slice and bake to create a tender hasselback swede.