Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mexican Rutabaga Fiesta

Gnarly little buggers, aren't they?

The very first time I had ever had a rutabaga was last summer. We had just moved into our house and some lovely neighbors brought us a casserole to enjoy. It was cheesy and spicy, with a nice slightly sweet veggie in there, and we were so exhausted and hungry that we just dove into it. It was only about halfway through that we discovered that we had no idea what we were eating.

It's not often that I get stumped by a vegetable - usually it has to only show up in Asian markets to be a total unknown to me. We shared servings of the casserole with some other friends. They also couldn't figure out the mystery vegetable. We took bets on what it could be. Finally a call to the cook elicited an answer - rutabaga. No one won the bet.

In memory of that lovely surprise, here is the recipe as written by the cook himself, who doesn't USE recipes, you see, but apparently can be pressed to write one.

  1. halve then par-cook two large rutabagas like you would potatoes for an au gratin — boil, then just before they get mushy, take out, cool, and cut into 1/8” slices.
  2. halve then slice then caramelize two large yellow onions
  3. get some roasted red peppers, like 1.5-2.0 cups worth, or those canned roasted green chilies, then cut in half lengthwise so you can layer them as filets later
  4. sauté up a big bunch of some greens (chard, beet greens, kale, spinach, Ralph Nader acolytes, etc.) in olive oil
  5. grate about a pound of sharp cheddar queso
  6. get about 15-18 good corn tortillas, taco-size
  7. grab some enchilada sauce (2 cans worth? Or one big can, I think), pour a cup’s worth into a shallow pan
  8. grease a lasagna pan with butter (olive oil works too)
  9. pour and spread a thin layer of enchilada sauce in bottom of pan
  10. drape tortillas in enchilada sauce on both sides, layer in pan, cutting some in halves and quarters to fill in gaps between rounds
  11. layer rutabaga slices and carmelized onions over tortillas & sauce, top with a thin layer of cheddar, then drizzle enchilada sauce over the layer
  12. repeat with an additional layer of draped/sauced tortillas, then put the chilies and cheese down, then drizzle with enchilada sauce
  13. repeat with an additional layer of draped/sauced tortillas, then put the greens and cheese down, then drizzle with enchilada sauce
  14. then top with one additional layer of tortillas, then cheese, then drizzle; maybe put sliced black olives all over the top if you dig those
  15. bake at 350 for like, I dunno, 30-40 mins, until it’s all baked and bubbly and the edges are browning
  16. serve with a nice neighbor’s homebrew or margaritas, lime wedges, spanish rice, refried beans, while wearing a tutu, faux moose horns, and elf shoes with the curly toes; the dish will taste like shit if you don’t follow this last part of the recipe
- Christiana Thomas


Jet said...

This makes me wish that I'd had the brlliance to serve everything in a tutu, faux moose horns, and elf shoes. Now I know.

Christiana Thomas said...


Sydney Laurel Harris said...

The 5th Annual Day of Renewal, a fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Fund was held yesterday and it was a glorious event at the home of Vicky Rathje, owner of In the Know Resources. The focus of the event was on prevention and eliminating environmental carcinogens from our food and cosmetics. And the message was delivered with humor by Marcia Newman, a licensed psychotherapist, Marcia Newman and Rachelle Carson Begley of “Living with Ed”, Rachelle Carson Begley. They were fabulous!
I helped procure the produce for the scrumptious meal created by Pace Webb, Taste of Pace. And I want to thank Steve and Olivia of The Farmer and the Cook in Ojai, Johnny and Elizabeth of Rio Gozo Farm also in Ojai, and Havila of McGrath Family Farms of Camarillo. Their farms provided delectable fresh organic leeks, chard, beets, and lettuce for the mixed greens salad with beets and goat cheese, and the chard and leek frittata. Don’t you wish you were there?


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There is plenty of gozo at Rio Gozo Farm. That is JOY in Spanish and joy is one of the most dependable products we have. Gozo is commonly found in gardens and farms. Once you get a little gozo up and going it is very tolerant of most pests, withstands dry periods, and grows with a modicum of fertilizer. After gozo becomes a staple of one's diet, it goes with about anything. Actually folks crave it so much it is a wonder everyone does not have a patch of it growing close at hand. Grab up some gozo and get with the flow.