Recipe: Unstuffed Rutabagas or Turnips

Thanks to US reader Tanya who sent me this original recipe back in February, writing:

I hope spring has come to Israel. Here we are still buried under a foot of snow and the ground is frozen hard. Rutabagas are still quietly sitting in the basement, nice and firm and ready to sustain us for however long it take for the ground to thaw and first spring greens to sprout! Seemed like as good a time as any to send you the rutabaga recipe. It would also be good with turnips.

With luck you can still find some rutabagas or turnips for this delicious and healthy dinner recipe.

Recipe: Unstuffed rutabagas


  • 2 large rutabagas (each as large as two fists placed knuckle to knuckle) or the equivalent amount of turnips
  • 1 lb. ground beef or lamb
  • 1 cup cooked rice (for gluten-free diets) or bulgur wheat
  • 1/3 finely minced onion
  • 1 egg
  • cinnamon
  • crushed red pepper flakes

For the sauce:

  • 28 oz. diced tomatoes, canned or fresh
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 2 Tbsp. ketchup or tomato paste (optional…it deepens the flavor.)


  1. Put the whole, peeled rutabagas in a pot of water and boil until somewhat softened. Remove and set aside to cool.
  2. In a bowl, mix meat, rice/bulgur, onion, egg, 1/3 cup diced tomatoes, with salt, pepper, cinnamon and red pepper flakes (the amounts of the spices are entirely up to you, but don’t be stingy. I usually used at least 1 tsp. of cinnamon.) Set aside.
  3. Mix diced tomatoes, vinegar, paprika, garlic, allspice and ketchup in a small sauce pan. Heat just until boiling, then remove from heat.
  4. Slice the rutabagas in half. Then slice the halves into 1/4 thick half-moons.
  5. Put a Dutch oven on a burner on low. Pour a bit of sauce in the bottom. Then line the bottom with a layer of rutabaga slices.
  6. Shape meat mixture into meat balls. Put a layer of meat balls on the rutabagas. Then a layer of rutabagas on the meat balls. Continue until all the meat and rutabagas are in the pot.
  7. Pour remaining sauces over the rutabagas and meat balls. Bring to a boiling over medium heat, then immediately reduce heat and simmer for one hour.


Substitute cooked lentils (1 cup dried) for the ground beef to make vegetarian. Omit the egg as well to make vegan.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s) 15 minute(s)

Diet tags: Gluten free

Dietary restriction: Kosher

Number of servings (yield): 4

Thank you, Tanya!

For similar recipes, see:

Ten Terrific Turnip Recipes

Ten Ways to Cook a Turnip

Stuffed Cabbage