Turnip greens are a southern specialty, typically served as a tasty side dish, but you don’t have to live in the south to enjoy them. These bitter greens have flavor similar to that of mustard greens and you cook them both in the same way. Whether you boil, braise or microwave your turnip greens, once seasoned with spicy peppers or salty bacon, they will make the perfect accompaniment for your main dish.
Prepping the Turnip Greens
Turnip greens hide lots of dirt and gritty sand in their cracks and crevices, so you’ll need to thoroughly wash them no more than a day prior to cooking them. If you wash your greens farther in advance, they will rot. Soak your turnip greens in a sink full of lukewarm water while gently agitating them to loosen any debris before draining them in a colander. Repeat the cleansing process two or three times until you no longer see any dirt or sand in your sink. Once cleaned and drained, cut away the tough stems and remove any discolored leaves. Chop the leaves into 1-inch strips so that they cook evenly.
Boiling Turnip Greens
Turnip greens come out soft and flavorful when boiled in pork or chicken stock, which you can then use as a liquid to sop up with cornbread. For a vegetarian option, simply boil the turnip greens in a pot filled with water and some added salt for flavor. You can discard the water from your greens to reduce their oxalate content for those with kidney stone issues, according to the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.” Cooking the greens takes 30 to 45 minutes when they are simmered in a large, covered stock pot. Drain the greens before serving them with some lemon juice or spices.
Braising Turnip Greens
Cook your turnip greens in the typical southern fashion by braising them with some bacon or ham hocks, which add a salty kick to the greens, and chopped onions for some added flavor. Once the greens are wilted in the fat, which takes about 10 minutes, add just enough pork or chicken stock to cover them. Cover and simmer the greens and pork for 30 minutes until they are soft and serve with a little hot sauce for a spicy kick. You can also braise the greens with olive oil or butter until they’re wilted before adding vinegar, vegetable stock, water or wine to finish the cooking process.
Microwaving Turnip Greens
Save some time by cooking your turnip greens quickly in your microwave. Place your turnip greens in a bowl. Pour a few tablespoons of chicken or pork stock over the greens to add some moisture to them and a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice for added flavor. Cover and microwave the greens for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender.
Seasoning and Serving the Greens
When serving your greens, whether microwaved, boiled or braised, top them with a little crispy bacon, chopped hot peppers or freshly chopped onions. Stir in a little Dijon mustard, garlic powder, fresh thyme or even a dash of cream. Serve the greens with meats, fish, cornbread or hush puppies.
References and ResourcesSouthern Living: Taste of the South: Turnip Greens
Epicurious: Turnip Greens
The Kitchn: Eating Well: Tips for Cooking Bitter Greens
North Carolina State University: Turnips Made Terrific
The Gift of Southern Cooking: Recipes and Revelations from Two Great Southern Cooks; Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock
The Children's Medical Center of Dayton: Oxalate Content of Foods
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: Effect of Different Cooking Methods on Vegetable Oxalate Content
The Well-filled Microwave Cookbook; Victoria Wise and Susanna Hoffman
Joy of Cooking All New Rev. -- 1997; Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker
ResourcesLos Angeles Times: Recipe: Braised Turnip Greens
Holly Hill Farms & Friends: Recipes for Turnip Greens
Epicurious: Turnip Soup with Turnip Greens