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A Gluten Free Holiday IV (Side Dishes): Rutabaga Gratin

[This week’s A Gluten Free Holiday (the fourth installment of this event that Amy created) is hosted by Diane at The Whole Gang.  You’ll probably remember Diane’s “30 days to a food revolution“–she even got Jamie Oliver involved!  Diane’s theme is sides and main courses today, so hop over to her blog if you’d like to see what she made (warning to vegans: meat-heavy recipe!), to enter the contest to win one of several cookbooks (see below) or to post your own recipe, click here. 

Diane is giving away TWO books by Shauna James Ahern, everybody’s favorite Gluten Free Girl!  You could win Shauna’s first book:

or the just-released, co-authored book by Shauna and her husband Danny:

Diane is also giving away TEN of my books–a hard copy of Sweet Freedom:

plus three trios of Sweet Freedom, Anti-Candida Feast, and Desserts without Compromise:


 To win any of these books, head over to Diane’s blog and enter!

My contribution this week, surprisingly, involves rutabaga.  (It’s only a surprise, really, if you know my history with this gnarly root–but we’ve now gotten past our differences, the ‘Baga and I).

It all started in the Garden of Eden.  Well, okay, not literally, but it began with the promise of a portrait. And before that, it had its roots in the early days of my romance with the HH. And before that, it occurred with basically every man who ever went on a date with any woman, back through the centuries. . . as far back, even, as Adam and Eve. 

It all started with a guy who promised, “I’ll call you.”

Yes, men have gotten in hot water over this one for all eternity.  You know how it goes: you’re at the end of a first date and he walks you to the door to say goodnight. You’re standing beneath the beam of a streetlight as it illuminates the hopeful glint in your eyes.  You gaze askance. “I had a great time,” you whisper (a little breathlessly), tilting your chin up toward his face. 

“Me, too,” he replies, and brushes a kiss across your cheek. “Yeah, let’s do it again.  I’ll call you.”

I mean, can’t you just imagine it?  Garden of Eden.  Eve says to Adam, “Hey, how do you like them apples?” Adam replies, “Wow, those were great. Let’s do this again.  I’ll call you.”  And she never hears from him again.

Just as Freud wrestled with the question of What Women Really Want, every woman alive has attempted to solve the mystery of “Why do men say they’ll call and then never call?” In fact, an entire movie was even devoted to the conundrum.

I’ve asked the HH about this (far too many times, according to him).  Why do men (or anyone, for that matter) promise to do things they subsequently don’t deliver? The HH’s theory is that “we mean it at the time we say it.”  It’s just that somehow, between the kiss at the door and buckling the seatbelt, that good intention dissolves as the guys realize that nope, they’re just not that into you.

Apart from not calling me after our first date (or our second, or  third, or pretty much ever since then), the HH and I have an ongoing joke about another of his unkept promises (no, nothing to do with “The M Word”–I have no desire to repeat youthful mistakes, either). 

For years now, the HH has promised to paint a portrait of me.  You see, even though he never pursued it as a career, the HH (who studied Fine Arts in university) happens to be one of the most talented artists I’ve ever seen.  (In the early days of our relationship, I was constantly blown away by his artistic abilities.  Sitting around the dinner table at my friend Gemini I’s cottage one evening, the HH grabbed a pencil on the table, pulled over a napkin and–within the space of 45 seconds–drew a likeness of the niveous scene outside the window: the moonlit cottage across the frozen lake, the towering pines, the drifting snow. Gemini I asked if she could keep it, and it now hangs in their family room.)

Although he doesn’t paint any more, I pleaded cajoled begged asked the HH if he’d do a portrait of me (and make me look 10 pounds lighter in it, of course).  When he hemmed and hawed, I questioned what it would take to convince him.  His answer?  “Make some authentic Scalloped Potatoes for me.” (And he meant, to eat!). Well, what can I say–the guy likes potatoes.

Needless to say, he had his potatoes that week.  And that week was. . . oh, perhaps 312 weeks or so ago. Do I have my portrait?  Of course not. (But he really meant it at the time that he said it. . . ). .

Those potatoes came to mind as I was browsing through last month’s issue of Whole Living magazine the other day. Like Martha Stewart’s other publications (Living and Everyday Food), Whole Living quite often features vegan or vegan-friendly recipes.  And right there, in an article about “Dishing Up Nostalgia” with health-conscious chefs, was a recipe for Rutabaga Gratin.  Which looked exactly like scalloped potatoes.  This might be my chance to nab that portrait after all, I mused.

Although I’ve never been a lover of rutabaga (unless it’s the almond butter-crusted variety,  that is), I knew the moment I saw the photo that I’d love this dish.  In fact, this is the perfect dress-up ensemble for the otherwise homely rutabaga.  Softened and sweetened by its slow roast in the oven, the rutabaga is transformed from dowdy tuber to ravishing root. With its rich, silky robe of cashew cream and nubby breadcrumb collar, little ‘Baga gets all dressed up for its big date in this recipe. 

I fed this to the HH and he was, like me, enraptured.  “This stuff is great!” he enthused, scooping up almost half the casserole onto his plate.  “It might even be better than scalloped potatoes,” he went on.  “You’ve definitely got to make this again.”

“Sure thing,” I said.  “Maybe next week.” Turns out, that was two weeks ago.  But I did mean it when I said it. . . .

Previous “A Gluten Free Holiday” Posts (with recipes):

I. Staying Healthy Over the Holidays (Diet, Dessert and Dogs) 

II. Thanksgiving Favorites (Gluten Free Easily)

III. Gifts of Good Taste (Tasty Eats at Home)


20 comments to A Gluten Free Holiday IV (Side Dishes): Rutabaga Gratin

  • This sounds delicious! My first experience with rutabaga (or swede as we call it over here in England :)) was only loast week in fact, when I made the coconut-lime rutabaga puree from Vcon. I’m sure this would go down well with my family this Christmas. Emma


    Ricki Reply:

    Ah, yes, I recall swede! I’ve never made that V-con recipe, but may just try it now that I’ve gotten over my ‘baga aversion. 😉


  • are you sure you know that vegan mofo is over – I thought there would a deafening silence following the end of November but you are still going strong! So much seems to be happening. I love the sound of this gratin – though I can never get a potato gratin to cook outside 2 or 3 hours. But I do love rutabaga – had great fun pairing it with veg haggis last new years and also love it in a barley stew.


    Ricki Reply:

    MoFo may be over, but other events continue! A GF Holiday will occur every Thursday until just before Christmas. 🙂 This may have taken a wee bit longer than the recipe said, but if you cut the rutabaga thin enough, it will work out!


  • I rarely take into account the things that people say in passing (such as “I’ll call you”)…I don’t expect them to actually do it because my experiences lead me to believe that people rarely say what they mean or mean what they say. I hope that doesn’t make me sound like a negative person. I just like to think of myself as realistic 🙂
    It is interesting to hear HH’s take on it though- that men mean what they say at the time.

    I have actually never eaten rutabaga but I would be interested to try it. I’m a fan of most root veggies, and this dish makes the ‘baga look very appealing.


    Ricki Reply:

    Well, at least you’re not disappointed! 😉 If you like root veggies, you’ll probably enjoy this one, too.


  • Rutabaga Gratin? Seriously, where do you come up with this stuff Ricki? You are amazing!


    Ricki Reply:

    Actually, it’s not my recipe–copied almost exactly from the Whole Foods magazine. 🙂


  • OK. Even though this is made with rutabaga (ahem) it really does sound good. In fact, it sounds better than good. I may just try to nab a rutabaga at the farmers market tomorrow and make it. I mean it as I say it. I do. I’m going to bookmark this recipe.


    Ricki Reply:

    I believe you, Andrea. Of course you mean it (you said it, didn’t you?) 😉


  • This post made me laugh so much, Ricki! You are a gifted writer … you really need your own column on a site that reaches millions! I’ve found that the more you want something like the portrait, the less likely it is to happen. I’m all about law of attraction so you could put a rendition on your vison board, but we can’t control the actions of others. Darn it! Plus, HH is still getting his wonderful dishes from you. LOL

    Your dish looks very much like mine for the Gluten-Free Holiday side dish and entree roundup, but the ingredients are quite different. Still, I bet both would make your HH happy. 😉 And, I’d love to try this one some time. (I do mean it when I say it.)



  • I know I really like rutabaga and I’m sure I could convince people who have no idea what rutabaga even is with this dish (yes, I’m sure I know some people to whom that applies!)


  • Rutabega was nearly always on our holiday table growing up, but never in a gratin-style. I am bookmarking this, because I would love to work it into our holiday meal.

    I’m going to be honest : I would say “I’ll call you” because it was easier than saying “good-bye”. Whew. Feel better admitting that. Granted, I’m not a boy, so I’m not sure if that counts or not!

    Oh – longest comment ever – your comments aren’t in my spam folder ma soeur, so no worries! 😉


  • Oh, I’ve been brainstormed up a rutabaga gratin as well! My experiments turned into my root veggie lasagna instead. Can’t wait to try this!


  • Hmmm, rutabega, eh? not sure i’m a fan, but i’d certainly give this a try 🙂

    every time i hear rutabega i think back to my childhood, i had a friend who loved my mom’s strawberry and rutabega pie… lol. (it was really rhubarb!)


  • Megan

    Being a Newfie I am all too familier with rutebaga and turnip, but mostly the boiled and mashed variety. I haven’t had scalloped potatoes in ages, I’ll be trying this one out.
    How was the nooch incorporated? I wouldn’t mind trying that version.


  • I made the gratin for Christmas dinner this weekend sans miso, and I loved it! It was incredibly easy, and I can’t think of the last time that I had a dish that falls so nicely under the label “comfort food”. For the breadcrumbs, I used Kim’s Teff Pumpkinseed bread recipe. I think that I might add broccoli florets to it next time to make it even more of nostalgic casserole. Thanks for posting this!


  • I love rutabaga and love scalloped potatoes so this sounds right up my alley. Looks delicious too. 🙂


  • […] I think of rich, creamy, mousse-like desserts and sticky, sweet, flaky-crusted pies. I think of au gratin vegetable bakes, Brussels sprouts, root vegetables and garlic mashed […]

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