Not the sexiest of vegetables, swedes are a cross between turnip and a variety of cabbage. Although treated as root vegetables in the kitchen, they are not truly so because the part of the plant we eat is really the bulbous base of the stem. The circular ridges you see at the top of the vegetable indicate where the swede's leaves were. The skin is yellowy brown at the base with purplish tops, and the flesh is starchy and sweet tasting.

Also known as rutabaga in the USA, and confusingly as turnips or 'neeps' in Scotland, swede took its English name around the 1780s when Sweden began exporting a lot of its crop.


The most famous swede dish is the 'bashed neeps' served with haggis is Scotland. Swede purées well and in combination with root vegetables makes delicious, sweetly nutty mash. It also works well mixed with root veg and onions in beef or lamb stews.

However swede can be simply boiled or steamed and dressed with olive oil or butter, roasted like potatoes, or sliced and fried with garlic until browned, then sprinkled with salt and pepper and Parmesan cheese. You can also eat it raw as crudité or shredded in salads.


The yellow-fleshed variety is most common, however white-fleshed swedes are available. The smaller the swede, the more watery the flesh will be. For mashing, try to choose the drier large varieties.