When’s the last time you ate a rutabaga? Have you ever eaten a rutabaga? How do you feel about rutabagas? Do you know what rutabagas taste like? Ok. Enough with the 21 questions. Neither Clark nor I had ever tasted a rutabaga before making these fries and I don’t know why. They have the most unique and distinct flavor – slightly sweet and nutty.
French fries. Steak fries. Curly fries. Cajun fries. Sweet potato fries. Waffle fries. Forget about it. Rutabaga fries are what your life has been missing. They are a root vegetable – a hybrid between turnips and wild cabbage. Thanks to the tart lemon, aromatic garlic, and savory rosemary, rutabaga’s flavor gets to shine through in these healthy french fries. And those sauces that you see? I hope you’re ready for a mouthwatering experience.
I recently got my hands on two new books, one of which is Will Write for Food by Dianne Jacobs. From the moment I hit “Order,” I was counting down the days to the book’s arrival like a kid waiting for Christmas Day. I’ve never been a big fan of nonfiction – I’m the kind of person who would much rather get lost in an imaginary story. But I decided that it was time to learn some things from the pros. I was just getting started in WWFF, when I was asked “Why do you want to write about food?” I read the question, and then I read it again. You know – I’d never really thought about it until Dianne asked.
Why do I want to write about food? It’s hard to put a finger on that. Sure, I love food, but that’s a given. To figure out why I want to write about food, I’d have to go back a long ways. What am I writing for?
I was fortunate enough to have a mom who cooked for my family – boxed meals didn’t go much further than the occasional take-out pizza. The older I got, the more interested my mom became in health and organic food. Like any normal teenager would do, you can bet that I drug my feet. I ate the bare minimum of the healthy stuff and snuck junk food whenever I had the chance.
When I went to college, I went down the dark road of dining hall excess, too much soda, and much more frequent pizza splurges. That caught up with me. Fast. Luckily, Clark and I moved into an apartment with a couple of friends during sophomore year and we started to cook together, with the goal of eating healthier. All of a sudden, cooking became so much fun. We would plan, shop, cook, and eat together. Every time we cooked, we learned: sometimes a technique, sometimes about the ingredients, sometimes new flavors, and always about each other. As we learned together, we grew together and we felt better together.
The same thing happened when we moved to New York. After getting there and being bombarded by a wave of unfamiliar foods, I made it my mission to try new things. Where I used to scrunch my nose and shake my head, I started saying “Sure. Why not?” I realized just how much food was out there and what I was missing.
Trying new foods and new cuisines expanded my palate, but it also opened my mind. I have an insatiable need to seek out flavors I haven’t tasted and to learn about the cultures that accompany the foods – and then, to make them at home. The more time Clark and I spend in the kitchen, the more comfortable I become with cooking new things. I always know that whatever we’re making will end up tasting pretty good, but I’m still sometimes surprised by just how good healthy things can be. [Case in point: These french fries.]
I love writing about food because of the emotional connections that come along with it. My childhood, my teenage years, college, New York – every stage is so much a part of my attitude towards food. Every comfort food, every indulgence, every healthy alternative, and every new experience reminds me of another time.
Rutabaga? 4 years ago, I would have laughed at someone who offered it to me. Today, I find myself fighting Clark for what’s left on the parchment, making sure nothing goes to waste. Every last one of the savory-sweet, crunchy fries is mine – along with the finger-licking good sauces.
- 4-5 rutabagas [peeled, and sliced medium]
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- ½ tbsp. lemon juice
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- 4 cloves of garlic [minced]
- 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- Chipotle Dip
- 4 tbsp. vegannaise or mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- ½ tsp. chipotle
- ½ tsp. chili powder
- ¼ tsp. sea salt
- Sriracha Ketchup Dip
- 2 tbsp. ketchup
- 2 tbsp. sriracha
- Wash and peel rutabagas, then cut into french fry-sized pieces, about ¼" by ¼".
- Preheat oven to 425º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, toss chopped rutabaga, minced garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Mix together using hands under the fries are lightly coated.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, removing once or twice to stir fries around on baking sheet.
- To make the sauces, combine the ingredients for each in a small bowl and mix using a spoon.