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
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.