A modest root

Dressed in olive oil, sea salt and roasted until slightly brown and caramelized, the rutabaga is a favorite on my list of cruciferous vegetables. While the rutabaga is a cross between a cabbage and turnip and belongs to the cabbage-family, it’s skin is thin and pale yellow (or white depending on the variety) and is naturally on the sweet side.

I, unlike D (my mister), could eat these sweet roots several times a week. Not a fan of cabbages or their kin, D will often pass when offered a spoonful of roasted rutabaga, which means all the more for me. I do not, however, surrender easily nor can I eat an entire roasting pan full of rutabagas, no matter how much I adore them.

So it was rather surprising when I discovered a recipe that featured the sweet side of this vegetable. Rutabaga Pie, hmm, I had never considered its yellow flesh puréed into a custard like sweet tart before.

Immediately, I began rewriting the recipe to include whole-grain flour, natural sweeteners, and nut cream. I cut out the corn syrup, brown sugar, eggs, shortening, all-purpose flour, and heavy cream to create a fresh take on the familiar pumpkin and winter squash pies.

This pie, with notes of caramel and rich cream, has a lingering custard finish. It has even convinced my doubting mister to enjoy two helpings of his less than tolerable foe. I am in total agreement with his double servings, “Rutabaga Cream Pie, you are a delight!

Rutabaga Cream Pie
adapted from Vegetarian Times (Issue: 1.1.2003) and
from Sweet and Natural by Meredith McCarty

Yield 10 servings

Sweet Tart Crust

1 1/2 cups whole spelt flour
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup virgin coconut oil (melted) or other light oil (walnut, almond, avocado, grape seed)
1/4 cup maple syrup
up to 1/4 cup cold water (as needed)


1 1/4 pounds rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
egg replacer for 3 large eggs (4 1/2 tsp. ener-g egg replacer + 6 Tablespoons warm water)
1 cup sweet cashew cream

Sweet Cashew Cream

1 cup raw cashews
1/8 cup brown rice syrup
1/8 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup soy milk (to make a thicker “whipped” cream, use 1/4 cup soy milk)

1. To make sweet tart crust, mix flour and salt. Melt coconut oil, then stir with flour and salt until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add maple syrup gradually (if dough does not hold together on its own, add just enough ice water to hold dough together). Mix until a soft workable ball forms in the bowl; do not overmix. Add a small amount of flour if necessary. Shape the dough with your hands into a flattened disc. Roll dough out between two sheets of parchment or waxed paper; dust flour over the bottom sheet and on top of the dough. Use quick gentle strokes to start rolling from the center outward in each direction, think compass. Take the top layer of paper off and invert rolled dough into oiled pie or tart pan. Peel off other paper layer. Crimp the edges. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to fill (store for several hours or overnight, or freeze it).

2. To cook rutabaga for filling, boil water over medium heat then add cubed rutabaga, and cook until very soft (about 45 minutes). Drain well.

3. To make sweet cashew cream (while rutabaga is cooking), in a food processor, process cashews until ground to a fine meal. Add vanilla, then very gradually add brown rice syrup and maple syrup and process until texture resembles heavy cream. Set aside 1 cup of cream for filling and reserve the rest for topping individual pie servings.

4. Transfer cooked and drained rutabaga to food processor, and process. Add up to 1/2 the sweet cashew cream to moisten mixture and process until it reaches a smooth consistency. Place rutabaga cream puree in large bowl.

5. Preheat oven to 350°. Remove pie crust from refrigerator.

6. Stir brown rice syrup, maple syrup, and spices into rutabaga purée, mixing well. Fold in egg replacer, then stir in remaining 1/2 cup cashew cream until incorporated. Pour mixture into pie crust.

7. Bake for 75-90 minutes, or until set (the center should be solid, not wiggly). Cool before serving.


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