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Cooking with Turnips Greens

Turnips Greens

 

Turnips greens are actually two vegetables in one. The leaves are a delicious, slightly bitter alternatively to spinach, collards, Swiss chard, or other greens. If you have a good farm market nearby and can buy turnips greens  in bunches with the crisp fresh greens still attached, rush them home and cook the greens for dinner. The turnips themselves can wait a day or two before they are served.


Turnips greens are not a favorite American vegetable. Long thought of as animal fodder or poor peopleís food and often overgrown and stored too long to be at their peak, turnips were pretty much abandoned after more fashionable vegetables came on the scene. European and Asian cuisines make much more use of these delicious root vegetables, however, and they deserve a wider following in this country. This very old vegetable, eaten and enjoyed by the ancient Romans, was a part of the peasantís basic diet throughout Europe for centuries. The French still enjoy turnips greens, especially with game and duck.


I think one of the major reasons that Americans stay away from turnips in droves is that they have never eaten a good one. Frequently they find storage turnips greens in the market that have become pithy and strong tasting. Or they have fallen victim to the idea that bigger is better which usually results in un-appetizingly woody vegetables. Small, freshly pulled turnips greens are crisp and sweet, good enough to eat out of hand, like an apple.


White turnips are shaped like old-fashioned spinning tops, with purple or green shoulders, although there is now a small all-white turnip as well.


Like their cousins rutabagas, turnips greens are one of the cruciferous vegetables, along with broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. While they do not contain beta-carotene, they could be helpful in preventing some kinds of cancer. Turnips greens are low in calories and fat, and provide moderate amounts of vitamin C, calcium, and potassium.

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