Bubble and Squeak – and Rutabagas!
Evergreen Station (Ferndale) at the Bellingham Farmers Market often has really beautiful organic vegetables–not just high quality but also visually lovely. Last weekend I was particularly delighted by their large rutabagas. The skins were perfectly smooth, the color varied from pale gold to purple, and the size was enormous. I bought a single 2-pound root, not sure how I would use it.
Rutabagas, also known as “Swedish turnip” or “yellow turnip”, are thought to be a cross between wild cabbage and turnips. They should be eaten as soon as possible after harvesting because they will get tougher as they lose moisture. In a grocery store, you’ll often find they have been waxed to prevent drying.
They can be eaten raw sliced into sticks or grated onto salads, where they add a peppery and slightly sweet taste. More commonly they are cooked so they soften and sweeten. They are often prepared like potatoes, and either mashed or fried.
To prepare rutabagas for cooking, I first peel them with a vegetable peeler. This may not work well if the rutabagas have been out of the ground long, in which case you can use a paring knife. Next, cut them in half so you can have a flat surface to put on the cutting board. Rutabagas are fairly hard, so use a large sharp knife and slice them carefully to a thickness appropriate to how you are cooking them. For today’s recipe, for example, I cut the slices about an inch thick, and then cut the slices into approximately one-inch cubes, perfect for roasting.
I’m a firm believer that roasting enhances the flavor of almost any root vegetable, and rutabagas are no exception. However, in honor of the beauty of this particular rutabaga I wanted to do something beyond that, something a little unusual.
When I began researching ideas, I was struck by how rutabagas seem to bring out the humorist in people. One example was a website dubbed The Advanced Rutabaga Studies Institute which offered some ridiculous recipes and outrageous marketing ideas for growers. The crown for rutabaga hilarity, though, has to go to the Farmers Market in Ithaca, New York, where they host an annual Rutabaga Curling Championship, a vegetable spin on the popular Canadian ice sport. This is no trivial festival. It includes a parade, rutabaga beauty contests, a choir singing a rutabaga version of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, and, of course, the curling competition itself where participants hurl rutabagas down a lane bounded by straw bales, trying to land their vegetable closest to the target. For a good laugh, watch this video:
Finally I found a recipe I could adapt with a name funny enough to suit my main ingredient–Bubble and Squeak. In Britain, Scotland, and Ireland, where this recipe is popular, there’s a tradition of serving roasted meat with vegetables on Sundays. Bubble and Squeak is then prepared for breakfast or lunch on Monday using the leftover vegetables. The name purportedly comes from the sounds made while cooking.
Bubble and Squeak is usually made with at least half mashed potatoes, though my version relies more heavily on rutabaga. Cabbage and onions are also classic ingredients (I think they provide the “squeak”). Beyond that, virtually any vegetable can be added. Because it’s intended for leftovers, the vegetables are often already cooked before the Bubble and Squeak is prepared, but in my version I started with some raw veggies, too. The possible combinations are infinite. It’s a good way to enjoy cleaning out your produce drawer.
- 2 lbs rutabaga (Evergreen Station, Ferndale)
- 4-5 Tbsp butter (split) (Breckinride Farm, Everson)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried thyme (Half Acre Farm u-pick, Ferndale)
- 1 lb potato (friend's garden, Lummi Island)
- 2 Tbsp sour cream (Twin Brook Creamery, Lynden)
- ½ head cabbage, chopped (about 4 cups) (Nooksack 9, Everson)
- 2 cups kale, chopped (Alm Hill Gardens, Everson)
- ½ large onion, diced (Half Acre Farm, Ferndale)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Peel rutabaga and chop into approximately 1 inch cubes. Place in mixing bowl.
- Melt 1 Tbsp of the butter and pour over rutabaga. Sprinkle with salt and add thyme. Mix to coat rutabaga pieces well.
- Spread rutabaga evenly in one layer on baking sheet covered with parchment paper (to keep rutabaga from sticking). Roast rutabaga for 30-40 minutes, until pieces are lightly browned on the outside and softened in the center.
- Peel and chop the potato into 1 inch cubes. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer for 6-8 minutes, until softened.
- Drain the potatoes and place in a mixing bowl. Mash, and stir in 1 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp sour cream. Add the roasted rutabagas and smash. Add chopped cabbage and kale. Mix well.
- In a large heavy skillet or Dutch oven, melt 1 Tbsp butter over medium high heat. Add the diced onion and saute for 3-5 minutes, until just browned.
- Mix the sauteed onion briefly in the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Put about half the mixture back into the skillet or Dutch oven, still over medium high heat. Add butter as needed to keep mixture from sticking to pan.
- At first, stir gently until the greens begin to wilt. The mixture will begin to stick together a little more, so you can divide it again in the pan and form into thick serving-size patties, roughly an inch and a half thick.
- When the bottoms of the patties are well browned, turn the patties over and brown the other side. (Note: The patties will likely stay only loosely formed. If they break apart when you turn them, simply use your cooking utensil to press them together again.) Salt to taste.
- Repeat the cooking process with the second half of the vegetable mixture.
Bubble and Squeak can be served as a breakfast. It can also be served as a vegetarian entree or side dish for lunch or dinner. Add some sausage or cheese for a heartier meal.
Bellingham Farmers Market, Railroad and Chestnut, Bellingham
Community Food Co-op, 1220 N. Forest St. or 315 Westerly Road, Bellingham
Half Acre Farm U-pick at Boxx Berry Farm, 6211 Northwest Road, Ferndale
Terra Organica, 1530 Cornwall Ave., Bellingham