This easy Cheesy Rutabaga and Carrot Casserole makes the perfect make ahead side dish. A naturally gluten free dish that is pure comfort food, this lower carb mash can be made up to a day in advance and then finished in the oven when you are ready for dinner. If you are looking for unique side dishes this holiday season then this casserole is for you. Plus it is easy to make for a crowd so if you have a house full this Thanksgiving or Christmas give this a go!
This comforting casserole is the food of my childhood, sweet savory mashed veg, topped with cheese and baked until bubbly and golden.
Whether you are serving this up for the holidays or for a standard Sunday roast, this side dish is sure to be a hit.
Did you know not all casseroles are casseroles?
In some parts of the world a casserole is a stew that is cooked in the oven rather than on the stove top. It is much more of a meat and gravy dish than a baked dish.
Where as in the United States, it is more encompassing, and refers to anything that is baked in a dish in the oven.
So this Cheesy Rutabaga and Carrot Casserole could well be called Cheesy Rutabaga and Carrot Bake. But whatever you call it is is soooo good.
What is a rutabaga?
Firstly lets just take some time to say the name again.
I just love it! Here in Australia and in England a rutabaga is called a swede (and in Scotland they call it a Neep). Rutabaga is such a better name!
And it makes the most sense. It comes from the Swedish word rotabagge, where as swede is so named because it was the Swedish that first introduced the vegetable.
So what is a rutabaga/swede?
It is a root vegetable that was first came from Sweden and is a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. The root is more widely eaten but the leaves can be cooked in a similar way to greens.
How to pick a good rutabaga
When looking in the grocery store pick rutabagas that are smooth and hard. The ones that are wrinkly and soft are past their best and will be much less sweet.
Rutabagas are a heavy vegetable so you’ll find that 2 will be enough for this recipe which will easily serve 8-10 people. Possibly even more if it is on the Thanksgiving/Christmas table with lots of other delicious side dishes.
So is this a mashed carrot dish?
No, you don’t want this as smooth as say mashed potato. This needs to have some texture to it, or it becomes a little like baby food.
The best way to do this is to use a potato masher and just lightly crush everything together. You can use a food processor but keep it on pulse so you don’t end up with mush.
The picture below shows the texture you are looking for.
Not only does this make it much nicer to eat, it gives the top of the casserole an uneven surface, which when baked in the oven gets the nice crusty bits on it. (Best bits!)
What cheese to use on your Rutabaga and Carrot Casserole
As the name suggest we want this good and cheesy.
I have two suggestions for this.
A nice layer of cheese on the top that can get golden brown when baked.
As an optional extra, for cheese lovers, add some small cubes of cheese stirred through the vegetables so you get pockets of cheesy goodness when you scoop into it.
You want a good melting cheese like:
- Monterey jack
- Cheddar jack
- Gruyere & Mozzarella
I don’t suggest mozzarella on it’s own here as is a bit bland for the dish but you could use it mixed with gruyere which is quite a strong cheese on it’s own.
Cooking the carrots and rutabaga
Carrots and rutabaga cook in about the same time, so when cutting up your veg, aim to cut them into similar sized chunks. Around 1 1/2 inches (4cm) is about right.
Then they are boiled until just fork tender. This means they keep their shape when crushed and don’t end up like baby food.
They will take around 15 minutes in boiling water.
How to make ahead of time
If you know you are going to be pushed for time, this casserole can be made up to 48 hours ahead of time.
To do this:
- Cook the veg in boiling water for 15 minutes.
- Lightly mash it and add the butter, horseradish and seasonings.
- Allow to cool.
- Stir though the cheese cubes (if using) and smooth into a casserole dish.
- Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until needed.
- To cook, cover with foil and cook for 15 minutes, before removing the foil and sprinkling over the cheese and cooking for a further 10 minutes.
If you are going to be really pushed for time, you can heat the casserole in the microwave and then just finish it in the oven with the cheese topping.
For more Holiday sides check out these mouthwatering recipes:
- Prepare ahead Roast Potatoes
- Roast Brussel Sprouts
- Cinnamon and Thyme Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots
- Maple Roasted Pumpkin Black Rice Salad
- Winter Slaw with Pecan and Maple Dressing
- Horseradish mashed potatoes with caramelized onions (The Chunky Chef)
- Creamy Green Bean Casserole (Sally’s Baking Addiction)
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Cheesy Rutabaga and Carrot Casserole
- 2 small rutabaga
- 10 carrots
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tsp prepared horseradish
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup cubed cheese (optional) - see note 1
- 1 1/2 cup grated cheese - see note 2
- Pre-heat the oven to 375ºF/190ºC
- Top and tail the veg, then peel and cut into 1½ inch (4 cm) chunks.
- Place the veg in a large saucepan, cover with boiling water and cook for 15 minutes until just tender.
- Drain well and return to the pan. Add in the butter, horseradish, salt and pepper.
- Use a potato masher to rough mash the veg. It wants to have some texture left (see bulk of post for a picture)
To cook immediately
- Stir the cubed cheese through the veg (if using) and then transfer everything to a casserole dish.
- Cover with the grated cheese and bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden.
To make ahead.
- Allow the mashed veg to cool completely then stir though the cubes cheese (if using)
- Transfer everything to a casserole dish, cover and leave in the fridge for unto 24 hours.
- Remove from the fridge and cook covered in foil for 10 minutes. (or reheat in the microwave)
- Remove the foil, sprinkle over the cheese and bake for a further 15 minutes until bubbly and golden.
- The cubes of cheese do make for a delicious casserole, but it is super tasty without.
- Pick a cheese that you are using on top or mix it up and use two different cheeses. You want a good melting cheese like:
- Monterey jack
- Cheddar jack
- Gruyere mixed with mozzarella
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