Swedes are a cross-breed between a turnip and a type of cabbage that have been around since the 17th century. It is also known as rutabaga or a Swedish turnip, which is where the common name, swede, comes from in New Zealand.
Surprisingly, they are said to taste better after a frost, so they won’t let you down in winter. The leaves can be eaten and compared to kale; however, in New Zealand it is the root of the plant that is readily available.
Swede is a quintessential European root vegetable. Think neeps and tatties in Scotland, lanttulaatikko in Finland, and Cornish pasties in England.
Nutmeg and anise work flawlessly with the hot, peppery sweetness of swede, also making it popular in festive dishes. As a mid-winter Christmas ham alternative, glaze a whole swede, studded with cloves and infused with bay leaves (see recipe at www.bidfood.co.nz/inspiration).
Add pep to potato recipes like gratins, mash and rosti by adding in some swede. Incorporate into soups or stews alongside carrot to balance out the swede's slight bitterness.
Young swede can be eaten raw, used as you would a radish. Julienne and add into a salad with apple, walnuts and kale and dress with a creamy blue cheese dressing.
Pair swede with rich, wintery meats, such as beef, lamb and pork, or turn it into a vegan alternative steak for your menu.
Or go sweet, and grate swede into cakes and muffins like you would carrot with a touch of cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger.
Swedes are said to be better tasting after a good frost, hence the majority of swedes in New Zealand, and reputedly the best, are those grown in Southland