When roast or mashed, swede makes a simple and tasty side dish. It can also be used to add interest to stews or in a variety of twists on mashed potato.
The swede is thought to have originated in central Europe and has a relatively short culinary history compared with many vegetables. It was known in France and England in the seventeenth century and became an important European crop by the eighteenth century. During the nineteenth century it reached the USA (where it is known as rutabaga) and then Canada.
To this day it is a much more popular food in North and East Europe than any other region.
A member of the Cruciferae family, Brassica napus is a hardy plant that is frost-tolerant and thrives in moist soil.
Swede has a good mineral content including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese. It is low in saturated fat and relatively high in sugars. It also provides some fibre and vitamins A and C.
Roasting will concentrate the swede's flavour, whereas boiling will dilute it. Cut swede into chunks or cubes, according to preference, and cook until tender. Baking at 200°C will take around 30 to 45 minutes, boiling will take 10 to 20 minutes.
Swede can also be used raw; try it finely grated in a salad.
In Scotland swede is known as neeps and is served mashed alongside haggis as part of the traditional supper on Burns Night.
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