Swede Key facts Known as a rutabaga in the US, the word swede derives from Swedish turnip, another name for this vegetable so loved by school dinner ladies. Enjoy it steamed, boiled or baked for a real taste of winter.

Home grown, best in winter

I love the unique flavour of swedes, which seems to epitomise all the goodness of home cooking. They have long been of service to cooks because their presence in stews and casseroles not only ekes out the meat to make it go further, but also adds something of its own flavour, while at the same time absorbing some of the meat flavours as well. Swede is also good served solo as a vegetable.

To prepare swede: all you need is a potato peeler to peel it in precisely the same way as a potato, slicing off the root end first with a knife. Then just cut the swede into suitably sized chunks.

To cook swede: cut it into 1 inch (2.5 cm) dice and steam for about 10 minutes, or until tender, then whiz to a purée in a food processor, or mash with a fork, adding a knob of butter, salt and lots of freshly milled black pepper. This method also works very well using half swede and half carrot but, in this case, I like it chopped small rather than puréed.

For roast swede: cut the chunks larger – 1½ inches (4 cm) – place the cubes in a bowl, adding (for 1 lb/450 g) 1 dessertspoon of olive oil and some seasoning. Toss the swede around to get all the pieces coated in the oil, then place them on a baking tray and roast in a pre-heated oven set to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C) for 30-35 minutes, until the swede is nicely toasted brown at the edges. Serves 4.

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