Swedish kiwi is an iconic symbol of New Zealand. A member of the cucumber family, the kiwi is often mistaken for the turnip, although they actually look quite distinct. It is also called rutabaga, yellow turnip or Russian turnip in America and also in Russia. No wonder many a tourist destination has a statue of a kiwi, either standing at the roadside or sitting on a plaque.
Like most plants, the common name for Swedes comes from the Latin word "swed" for "wing". Historically, the edible parts of these plants were cooked and eaten. Today, Swedes are primarily used to add flavour to food.
In addition to adding flavour to food, Swedes are also used as a vegetable garnish, in salads and as vegetable cutlery. They have a large number of seeds making them ideal for adding to vegetable dishes. Some of the more popular vegetable garnishes include turnips, carrots and squash. For example, to make squash soup, you can mash up two cups of chopped squash seeds, cover with a couple of cups of water and let soak overnight.
A similar vegetable to the turnips is the rutabaga, which is native to Russia. When turned into a vegetable, it resembles turnips. The rutabaga, which is similar in shape to a turnip in shape, is normally roasted. Roasted rutabagas are very rich in flavour and if not properly roasted, they tend to be dry and flavorless. Therefore, unless you want to use the leaves to make a delicious salad, you will need to roast them, slice them finely and then add them to a salad.
Neeps are also commonly found on a number of vegetable dishes. A good side dish for them is fennel. Although fennel is well known in North America, in Sweden it is not as common as in Germany and England. Despite this, fennel is found in many dishes including fish and chips. Similarly, there are other types of seeds used in cooking, including sunflower seeds (neeps), radishes, asparagus and potato seeds.
Both the turnips and rutabaga are actually root vegetables. This makes them very similar in appearance to a turnip with a difference in texture. However, unlike a turnip or rutabaga, kale is actually a leafy green vegetable with a fibrous inner root.
A favourite dish of Swede is a casserole that includes turnips and swede. Although the vegetable is not always used raw, it has a flavour that is quite similar to its seed counterpart. In addition to the casserole, another common dish includes a cabbage salad with turnips and swede. This meal provides a healthy source of fibre, which is beneficial for the body.
Kale and turnips are the first two vegetables from the cabbage family to be introduced to the west. Being so similar to their seed counterparts, both are now grown widely throughout the UK and Europe. In addition to being popular as a fresh vegetable, both are used for their rich flavour in soups, stews and sauces. As, well as their seed and root vegetable content, both are now used in a wide variety of cooking methods including pizza, lasagne and omelette recipes.
Kale is known as the "wild spinach" of Europe as it closely resembles the popular herb spinach. It is also known as having a "earthy" taste and colour which are characterised by pale purple or cream coloured leaves and a slimy purple stem. Kale is related to the marjoram family of vegetables with the difference being that the leaves are hairless. It shares similar nutritional value to turnips and the stem and leaves have a fibrous inner core which is edible and provides an excellent source of nutrition.
Rutabaga is a type of potato plant that grows wild across Europe. It closely resembles turnips and cabbage plants with its flat stems and short leaves. The flowers can be bright yellow and the fruit itself is round with a soft flesh. Unlike cabbage and kale, rutabaga is farmed and produces a high quality vegetable with a strong sweet flavor.
Olives are a large group of citrus fruits including grapefruit, oranges, tangerines and dates. The sweet flavour of olives is complemented perfectly by the delicate flavour of the Swedish waffles which also contain a faint sweet aroma of the olives. To make a delicious and nutritious combination of fruit and vegetable together, simply use pitted dates, butter and caster sugar. Blend together until smooth then add in the waffle and season with salt and pepper. Alternatively, season with freshly chopped walnuts or pecans instead.
Historically, people from Scandinavia migrated to Britain and brought with them their favourite vegetables such as turnips and cabbage. These early settlers had a strong liking for these vegetables and now many of us do. This is why it's so easy to integrate swedes into our everyday lives. Just remember not to overdo it with the turnips as it can make your whole meal taste a bit bland. And don't overcook the cabbage either as it can become rather bitter.