Last May I published my first Finnish “laatikko” aka casserole recipe with cabbage as the leading star. This time, this second casserole, features rutabaga, a very strange vegetable for me as I had never eaten before I moved to Finland. And I specifically chose this one because it is one of the most loved Christmas dishes in Finnish cuisine.
To be honest, as a person who doesn’t believe in any religions, I do not personally care about any religious day / holiday / celebration. However, I see some of them as special times when families come together around a table and just have a nice, cosy get together. That’s why I like publishing Christmas recipes in December for example. Just like I always liked the big dinner table in my family in Ramadan, when I was a kid.
Anyway, back to rutabaga, or lanttu as they call in Finnish. I have been planning to make this casserole for such a long time that I forgot the first time I decided to try it. I ate it first and only time a few years ago when I was invited to an international potluck Christmas dinner and the Finnish friend brought this casserole. After that a few times I planned to do it myself but every time something else came up and I couldn’t.
This is a very easy recipe. It just takes a bit long to bake in the oven. It is also a bit sweet because of the syrup and all, so it is slightly strange to eat at first but you get the delicious aftertaste and you get to like it more and more.
So if you want to try something new for your Christmas table with family / friends, a dish all the way from Finland, or if you are in Finland but trying to understand the language for a traditional dish in this land, here is lanttulaatikko, enjoy your new recipe!
Difficulty: ★☆☆ (Easy)
(makes 1 casserole in a 20x30cm oven dish)
1 kg rutabaga (in Finnish, lanttu), peeled, washed and diced (try to chop them as similar size as possible for even cooking)
1 tsp salt
soft butter to grease the oven dish
1 dl / 6 tbsp + 2 tsp dark syrup (in Finnish, tumma siirappi, or you can use treacle or molasses)
2 dl / 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp + 1 tsp heavy cream
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
a generous pinch of ground white pepper and salt to taste
To put on top:
1/2 dl / 3 tbsp + 1 tsp breadcrumbs (use gluten free if you need)
a few (3-4) mini cubes of butter
1. Put diced rutabaga in a big enough pan. Put enough water to cover them all and add 1 tsp salt. Put on medium high heat. Cook the rutabaga until it is very soft so that you can mash, for about 30 minutes. When cooked, drain the water and transfer to a big bowl.
2. Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease a 20x30cm oven dish and put aside.
3. Mash the cooked rutabaga.
4. Add syrup, cream, spices and egg. Mix well.
5. Add white pepper and salt and mix again. Taste to see if you have enough salt and adjust the taste accordingly.
6. Transfer the mashed mixture to greased oven dish. First smoothen the surface of the mash and then make patterns using a spoon or a spatula.
7. Cover the entire surface of the mash with breadcrumbs. You might want to highlight the patterns one more time after that. Put a few butter cubes on top as well. Put in the oven, in medium rack and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until the surface is nicely browned. Serve warm. Enjoy!