The hardy turnip green probably falls under the category of “greens-you-don’t-encounter-every-day-at-the-supermarket”. In fact, you’re more likely to find these greens in a plastic bag at the farmers’ market near the end of the day, after all the kale and arugula have been sold. Don’t let their seeming unpopularity throw you off. Most people just don’t know what to do with them.
Turnip greens are the leaves or tops of the turnip bulb, and they’re a popular side dish in southeastern U.S. cooking, where they’re often boiled or stewed and eaten with vinegar. The hardiness of the leaves also makes them a prime candidate for sautéing and stir fries. Look for small leaves (the larger ones tend to be more bitter) that have a consistent green color.
When it comes to your health, turnip greens are extremely high in vitamins K, A, and C. They have more folate–a B vitamin vital for cardiovascular support–than most cruciferous vegetables (42% folate per cooked cup). They’re a great source of fiber (one cup of cooked turnip greens gives you 20% of that day’s recommended fiber intake) and calcium (which explains their slightly bitter flavor). They have more glucosinolates than other cruciferous vegetables (like cabbage, cauliflower, and kale), which have cancer-preventing properties. They help lower cholesterol by binding to and flushing out bile acids from our system, which forces our liver to draw on our cholesterol supply to create new bile acids. And they provide multiple levels of support to your body’s personal detoxification system.
You can add turnip greens to any stir-fry, but here’s an easy, tasty way of cooking them all by themselves.
- 4 cups fresh turnip greens, washed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- dash rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- soy sauce to taste
Wash your turnip greens and pull off the tiny bulb at the root of each bunch.
In a frying pan, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, throw in the turnip greens and a splash of rice vinegar. Sprinkle the sesame oil over the top, stirring frequently. When the greens are fully wilted (about 2-4 minutes), throw in the minced garlic and turn off the heat. Keep stirring as the garlic cooks (only about 30 seconds longer). Season to taste with soy sauce. Serve over rice or as a flavorful side dish.