Turnips are an ancient vegetable that is thought to have been cultivated almost 4,000 years ago in the Near East. Both the Greeks and Romans thought highly of the turnip and developed several new varieties. Its widespread popularity in Europe has continued, although since the advent of the potato, it is less widely cultivated than it once was.
Turnips were introduced into North America by the early European settlers and colonists. They grew well in the South and became a popular food in the local cuisine of this region. Turnip greens, which became an integral part of Southern African-American cuisine, are thought to have been adopted into this food culture because of the role they played during the days of slavery. Supposedly, the slave owners would reserve the turnip roots for themselves, leaving the leaves for the slaves. As Western African cuisine traditionally utilizes a wide variety of green leaves in its cooking, the African slaves adopted turnip greens as a substitute and incorporated them into their foodways.
If you have received turnip greens with roots attached, remove them from the root. Store root and greens in separate plastic bags, removing as much of the air from the bags as possible. Place in refrigerator where the greens should keep fresh for about 4 days.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- Serve healthy sautéed turnip greens seasoned with some soy sauce, lemon juice and cayenne pepper
- Make a simple meal with a little Southern inspiration. Serve cooked turnip greens with beans and rice.
- Healthy sauté turnip greens, sweet potatoes and tofu, and serve alongside your favorite grain.
- Use turnip greens in addition to spinach when making vegetarian lasagna.
Garlic Turnips with Greens
There are many ways to eat a turnip and their greens, but this is my easy favorite. It involves blanching the greens and then sauteing the roots and greens together in butter. Tasty!
1 bunch turnips with greens
2 tablespoon of butter
2 cloves garlic
salt and pepper
1. Heat a pot of water (large enough to submerge all the greens) to boiling.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the turnips by separating the greens and root, slicing the root into thin half-moon slices and roughly chopping the greens before soaking them in water and draining, repeat until they are free of dirt. Mince the garlic.
3. When the water is boiling, add a couple pinches of salt then the turnip roots. Boil for 1-2 minutes until they turn bright green in color and become tender. Strain immediately and rinse in cold water to prevent further cooking.
4. Heat a saute pan on medium heat. Add butter and garlic, and then the turnip slices. Cook until almost tender and then add another tablespoon of butter and the greens.
5. Salt and Pepper to taste.
Cheesy Turnips and Carrots
This recipe comes from CSA garden member Wendy Manganiello. It is a great recipe for vegetables that will be coming into season soon.
3 cups diced peeled turnips
2 cups sliced carrots
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup diced celery
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
In a saucepan, combine turnips, carrots, ginger, water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook over medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender; drain and reserve liquid. Set vegetables aside. In a skillet, saute onion and celery in butter until tender; stir in flour, pepper and remaining salt. Add milk and the vegetable liquid; bring to a boil. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Stir in cheese until melted; stir in the vegetables and heat through.
This is a variation on a traditional French dish, which normally uses just potatoes - consider using turnips just alongside potatoes in a variety of dishes: au gratin potatoes, latkes, mashers, etc. Also, this dish can conveniently be made ahead of time and reheated.
- 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 1/4 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold, or Idaho potatoes
- 1 (about 2 pounds) rutabaga
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place garlic in an ovenproof ramekin; drizzle with olive oil. Roast until light brown and very soft, about 20 minutes. Remove garlic from oven, and let stand until cool enough to handle. Peel garlic, cut into slices, and set aside. Reduce heat to 425 degrees.
Meanwhile, peel potatoes, and slice them as thinly as possible; place them in a bowl, and put damp paper towel on top to keep them from turning brown. Peel rutabaga, and cut in half, slice as thinly as possible, and cover with a damp paper towel.
In a 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter, swirling pan to coat bottom and sides. Remove from heat. Starting at the sides of the pan, arrange about half of the rutabaga slices in overlapping concentric circles, covering bottom of pan; press to compress. Sprinkle rutabaga with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and a third of the roasted garlic; dot with 1 tablespoon butter.
Arrange the potato slices in tight concentric circles over the rutabaga, and press down. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and another third of the garlic; dot with 1 tablespoon butter. Arrange remaining rutabaga on top, and season again with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and remaining garlic; dot with 1 tablespoon butter.
Spread a large piece of aluminum foil with remaining tablespoon butter. Cover skillet tightly with the foil, buttered side down. Place a cast-iron skillet on the foil to weigh it down, and transfer to the oven. Bake until vegetables are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 50 to 60 minutes.
Remove pan from oven, and let stand on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove foil, and invert roots carefully onto a serving dish. Garnish with remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and serve warm. This can be made ahead of time and reheated.