Scandinavian Crush | Sole and Vanilla-Scented Rutabaga

The culinary world is in love with Scandinavia.   The tiny, 42-seat restaurant Noma was named the best restaurant in the world last April.  Driven, innovative Marcus Samuelsson is a regular fixture in the Top Chef shows.  The cuisine as a whole has received a makeover of sorts.

I first became acquainted with the basic aspects of it through a great series that was broadcast on PBS several years ago and which lead me to pick up what has become one of my favorite cookbooks Kitchen of Light: The New Scandinavian Cooking.   Author Andreas Viestad gives a wonderful background on the region as well as a bounty of recipes pairing traditional ingredients with new flavor partners.  It is one I reach for on a regular basis during the winter months.

The humble rutabaga prepared in a wide variety of ways makes a regular appearance in Norwegian homes, and I have found that I love it now, as well.  This meal, inspired from Kitchen of Light, takes all of about 20 minutes to make and really only requires two main ingredients, if you exclude a couple of basic pantry staples and a fresh sprig of rosemary.  Give it a try on a night you’re pressed for time.

The rutabaga is prepared the same way you would for mashed potatoes (peel, cube and boil in heavily salted water).  When it is tender, drain (and transfer to a food processor for a silky puree or mash by hand for a bit more rusticity) and add butter, a bit of cream (my preference) or milk, season with a bit more salt and pepper to taste.  While you’re mashing, add in the seeds scraped from a split vanilla pod.

Serve with sole fillets that have been folded in half lengthwise, with a small slit in the top of each for a small bit of fresh rosemary.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper.  I place them on parchment paper in my pan to prevent sticking.  Depending on the size of the fillets bake at 350 degrees for about 10 to 12 minutes or until the fish begins to flake when touched with a fork.

Playlist included I’d Rather Dance With You by Kings of Convenience.


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