Turnip greens are the leaves of the turnip plant, better known for its tasty root. Turnip, which scientifically known as Brassica rapa, belongs to the Cruciferae family, a cousin to other health-protective giants including kale, collards, cabbage, and broccoli.
Turnip leaves are smaller and tenderer than their cousin, collards. Their slightly bitter flavor is delicious. Turnip greens are an important vegetable in traditional Southern American cooking.
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. 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.
How to Select and Store
Turnip greens are usually available with their roots attached. Look for greens that are unblemished, crisp, and deep green in color.
If you have purchased 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.
Tips for Preparing Turnip Greens
Rinse turnip greens under cold running water. Chop greens into 1/2-inch slices for quick and even cooking.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- Make a simple meal with a little Southern inspiration. Serve cooked turnip greens with beans and rice.
- Use turnip greens in addition to spinach when making vegetarian lasagna.