Neeps, or Swedes or rutabaga…whatever you call them, don’t appear on our tables frequently enough. For some, rutabaga is an acquired taste. They have a strong flavor, in the turnip family. I like to cook them with carrots and it turns out, others like them this way, too. I love the names the Brits give to various and sundry things—Bubble and Squeak, Toad-in-the-Hole, Stargazy Pie, Spotted Dick…you get the idea. “Neeps” is theirs, too. We called them “beggies”…I suspect this came about because one of us couldn’t pronounce rutabaga, as a child. My grandmother had an English background, so she cooked rutabaga often, as did my mother. A couple of times we raised “beggies” in our garden, but usually my mother just bought a few.
The root has a wax coating that must be peeled off. If there’s no coating, though I’ve not seen them that way, you could probably leave the skin on and roast them.
But, for this version, we’re boiling them with carrots, a bay leaf, whole allspice berries (we’ll remove those before mashing) and some dry vegetable base. My mother boiled them, mashed them and added heavy cream (we added that to pretty much everything!) and a sprinkle of ground allspice. I still like them that way, but I wanted a “lighter” version, so no heavy cream.
This version came to me by way of the Oban Inn, in Niagara-on-the-Lake. This area of southern Ontario is now a stellar wine region. Many years ago, The Latin Lover and I enjoyed a lovely dinner there, and this was one of the dishes they served. Simple. Clean flavors. Delicious. It can be made ahead and it reheats beautifully. Feel free to alter the proportions. This is what I used today. I like to use more or less equal parts of rutabaga and carrots. You may use sweet potato, instead of the carrot.
The Oban Inn didn’t use the crumb topping, but it’s a nice option.
The crispiness of the crumbs and nuts contrast nicely with the creamy, mashed texture of the rutabaga and carrots. Either way, this is a winner!
Neep and Carrot Mash-Up
- 1 rutabaga, about the size of a softball, peeled and cut into large pieces
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 whole allspice berries
- Water to cover by about 1/2-inch
- 1-2 tablespoons powdered chicken or veggie base
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, butter or heavy cream
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Optional Crumb Topping:
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped toasted pecans or almonds
- 3 tablespoons very finely chopped cooked bacon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or melted butter (see NOTE)
Combine the cubed rutabaga and carrots; I usually cut the carrots slightly larger than the rutabaga, as carrots cook more quickly. Add the bay leaf and allspice berries. Cover with water, by about 1/2-inch; add the powdered base. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer until very tender, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain the liquid (save it for soup…it’s a delicious addition!). Use a potato masher and mash the two together. I prefer to mash them my hand, rather than in a food processor, as I like to see the bits of carrots and I think the consistency is superior. Add olive oil, butter or heavy cream. Taste and add salt, if needed. Make Ahead Tip: Put into a microwave-proof dish, cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside. When ready to serve, zap for a couple of minutes until hot. If using the crumb topping, add and continue with the recipe.
For the crumb topping: Stir the crumb topping ingredients together, except the oil or butter. Sauté the crumb mixture in the oil or butter, until browned. Sprinkle evenly over the rutabaga carrot mixture and serve.
NOTE: For the crumb topping, you may need more/less oil or butter, depending on how fatty the bacon bits are.
Neep and Carrot Mash-Up Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2019. All rights reserved.
The is a wonderful side dish with prime rib, and roast beef or pork.