Photo: Danny Kim. Illustrations by John Burgoyne.

If ever a vegetable needed an image consultant, it would be the rutabaga. Its parents were a cabbage and a turnip. The French do not like them and consider them fodder. The Russians have a saying: “I’m as sick of you as of rutabaga.” And in Ithaca, they use them instead of rocks to play the sport of curling. Still, the plant has hidden depths; beneath its gnarly exterior there lies a certain sweetness and appealing starchiness that takes well to mashing with butter—a technique deftly applied by Allswell chef and rutabaga champion Nate Smith.

Nate Smith’s Smashed Rutabagas and Carrots

2 medium-size rutabagas
5 medium-size carrots
1/4 pound butter
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
Pinch of ground chile flakes
1 sprig tarragon
1 cup water
1 tbs. flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

(1) Slice the ends off the rutabagas, peel, and (2) cut into a large dice. Peel the carrots, and cut into a large dice. Place all of the ingredients except parsley in a saucepan, and add the water until it reaches halfway up the diced vegetables. Cover with a parchment lid, and cook over medium heat, adding more water if necessary, until the vegetables are soft enough to mash and the water has been absorbed. (3) Remove tarragon, and roughly smash the rutabaga-carrot mixture with potato masher. Adjust seasoning. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serves 4.