Turnips don't get a ton of attention in the culinary world, and their vibrant, nutritious greens get even less love. Turnip greens are packed with vitamins A and C and can add flavor and texture to braised and sauteed dishes.
What are Turnip Greens?
Turnip greens are the dark leafy green tops of turnips. Though often discarded, the greens of this plant are edible and utilized in many cuisines, and can be used just like other lettuces and hearty leaves.
What to Do With Turnip Greens
Select turnips with bright green leaves sprouting from the top, and utilize the whole plant. Remove the turnip root for later use, then rinse the greens well, dry, chop and cook like you would kale or collards, adding salt, bacon, butter, lemon, cider vinegar, or anything else that will helps break down the greens' thick cellular walls.
Because these leaves have peppery zing to them (like mustard greens or arugula), they work well in Southern-style dishes and can add a pleasing bite to stir fry, quiche and stews. Turnip greens also work well in soups, as they wilt nicely and become tender when cooked or braised for a long time. Avoid eating them raw, since they tend to be tough and fibrous.
What Do Turnip Greens Taste Like?
The greens of the turnip taste a lot like the root, so you can expect peppery notes in the greens from fall turnips, and a sunnier zip on the tender spring turnip leaves. Turnip greens aren't as spicy as mustard greens, and unlike capsicum heat, the tingle from this green vegetable dissipates quickly.
Turnip Greens Recipes
Cook turnip greens like you would kale, collard greens, or Swiss chard. Substitute turnip greens for any of them in savory recipes.
Where to Buy Turnip Greens
It's rare to find turnip greens on their own, and not every store carries turnips with the stems attached, especially during the winter months.
Farmers' market will usually sell turnips whole with the greens still attached, which are usually the best and freshest options. Make sure any greens you do get are actually green. Yellowing means they are past the prime, and won't be very good to eat.
Keep greens attached to turnips as long as possible to keep them firm and spot-free. The leaves will start wilting much more quickly than the actual turnip, so use the green first. Prolong their life by washing and wrapping in a damp paper towel or cloth, avoiding the bulbs (which don't like moisture when being stored).
Nutrition and Benefits
Turnip greens pack in a hearty dose of vitamins A and C. One serving has a day's worth of vitamin A, and a good amount of fiber, as well as small amounts of magnesium, vitamin B6, calcium, and potassium. The turnip itself has even more fiber and vitamin C than the greens.
There are just as many types of turnip greens as there are turnips, from Purple Top to White Tokyo Cross to Golden Ball. One of the most common turnips you'll see on the market is the Hakurei, small white turnips with thinner greens that are sweeter than larger varieties. All of these have nutritious edible greens that taste like the bulb.