You'll Get Tastier Mashed Potatoes By Adding Rutabaga

As a dish, mashed potatoes stand perfectly fine on their own. You've probably had so much this Thanksgiving that you're sick of them — but you'd likely admit that nothing quite beats a good forkful of the buttery, creamy, smooth stuff. Mashed potatoes aren't a dish that requires fancy ingredients, expensive cooking tools, or any degree from a culinary academy to make. You could serve them by themselves with a tub of gravy and most people wouldn't have any complaints except to ask for more.

But it's not too "out there" to consider mashed potatoes a "blank slate," a starchy canvas to explore new flavors and textures. You may have heard about loaded mashed potatoes, which take all the standard toppings of a baked potato — bacon, cheese, green onions, etc — and stirs them into mashed potatoes. Giada De Laurentiis, via Food Network, has a recipe for baked mashed potatoes with a golden crust made of Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs. You can also follow good old Guy Fieri's advice and make "Sofrito Mashed Potatoes," which are mashed potatoes with tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and peppers. Mashed potatoes work whether they're loaded with cheese, bacon, gravy, or just a warm pat of butter.

There is one vegetable, however, that you may have never considered adding to your mashed potatoes at all. But what exactly does it do that makes your mashed potatoes "tastier?"

Rutabagas add flavor and texture

In case you may have only heard of a rutabaga (and maybe just like how the word rolls off the tongue), MasterClass describes the rutabaga as thus: "a type of oblong root vegetable similar to turnips." The rutabaga is also described as being a cross between a turnip and cabbage with a slightly bitter, earthy taste. Now that we have some foundational knowledge of what a rutabaga is, what makes it good for mashed potatoes?

According to wikiHow, adding rutabagas to your mashed potatoes helps with the taste, texture, and color. While a bowl of mashed potatoes is, as stated, perfectly fine on its own, it's not exactly known for being the most "exciting" dish — being either silky or somewhat lumpy, white, and pretty neutral in flavor. By adding some rutabagas to your mashed potatoes, wikiHow explains, you get a slight hint of flavor without it being too overpowering, a nice pop of color, and a texture that is described as being creamier and less viscous than your average mashed potatoes.

Incorporating rutabagas into your mashed potatoes isn't too hard. Anne Burrell's recipe follows a standard mashed potato recipe but adds a peeled and chopped rutabaga, blended with boiled potatoes, butter, and cream.  In fact, you could even go so far as to skip potatoes altogether and make mashed rutabagas (per the New York Times).

If you can't find rutabaga, try turnips

Recall that rutabagas are described as being similar to turnips. If that is the case, wouldn't it stand that one could substitute turnips for rutabagas in mashed potatoes?

The concept of mashing turnips with potatoes doesn't seem to be uncommon, as Martha Stewart has a recipe for "turnip and potato mash" that appears to follow the standard recipe for rutabaga mashed potatoes albeit with turnips. The resulting dish is described as being "peppery," not too dissimilar from rutabaga mashed potatoes. It would seem that turnips could also be used as a quick replacement for potatoes, at least according to SF Gate. This is not just because potatoes, rutabagas, and turnips are all root vegetables, but SF Gate tells us that turnips actually have fewer carbs than your average potato alongside being able to be mashed and roasted in the same way the everyday spud could be.

MasterClass also tells us that, when cooked, turnips have a sweet, nutty, and somewhat earthy flavor, similar to the light flavor of rutabaga. If one would be willing to add this vegetable to mashed potatoes, they wouldn't notice too overpowering a flavor that would ruin their bowl of mashed potatoes. Whether or not you add rutabagas or turnips to your potatoes, we can all agree that enjoying a spoonful of warm buttery potatoes really is one of the good things in life.