Thursday, June 9, 2011

Recipes: Eat your Greens! Turnip Greens, that is…

This diamond has so many carats it's almost a turnip. – Richard Burton, commenting on the size of the Taylor-Burton diamond purchased in 1972.

Beautiful turnips. Photo: skampy, flickr ccl
Ever wonder why we eat one end of a vegetable and throw away the other? It doesn’t make sense, does it. We do it all the time. Beets and beet greens, carrots and carrot tops, turnips and turnip greens… It even makes less sense when you take a close look at what you’re throwing out. Much of what is destined for the garbage is full of things you need to be healthy.

Diets high in antioxidants are proving to aid in the fight against many illnesses. So it really is mind boggling that one of our most nutritious dark green leafy vegetables is generally cut off and thrown out with the trash.

What vegetable is that? Turnip greens.

Turnip greens provide high levels of antioxidants which are proving beneficial against heart disease, emphysema, and many forms of cancer and arthritis. Turnip greens may be of special benefit to those who suffer from Rheumatoid arthritis as it has high levels of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Calcium and Copper – all which all have been proven beneficial for that condition.

Turnip Greens Are Extremely High In Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Folate
Most people know about turnip roots, but a great many individuals have no knowledge about the edibility of the leaves, called greens. Sometimes it is even difficult to purchase turnip greens at the local grocery.

Turnip root cooked with turnip greens.
Photo: Laurel Fan, Flickr ccl
Vitamin K is important because it is needed for proper bone formation and aids in blood clotting, in both cases by helping the body deal with calcium. Often vitamin K can be produced by the body through bacteria in the large intestine. If a person is taking antibiotics that kill the bacteria in the large intestine, deficiency can occur. Evidence is also growing of its value in treating or preventing osteoporosis. 

A one cup serving of turnip greens supplies 660% of your daily required intake. (That's NOT a typo.)

Vitamin A is an antioxidant that supports skin, lung and stomach health. Antioxidants are substances that protect the body from damage done by free radicals. It promotes healthy eyesight and may prevent certain age-related eye disorders as well. Eating vitamin A-rich foods may also help your body target and get rid of toxins and free radicals that can contribute to cancer. 

A one cup serving of turnip greens supplies 158% of your daily required intake.

Vitamin C aids in the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. It helps the body make collagen, an important protein used to make skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. It is essential for healing wounds, and for repairing and maintaining bones and teeth. Vitamin C is an antioxidant. Antioxidants block some of the damage caused by free radicals. The build-up of free radicals over time may be largely responsible for the aging process and can contribute to the development of health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.

A one cup serving of turnip greens supplies 66% of your daily required intake.

Folate is another name for Vitamin B9. Folate is vital for growth and body maintenance. The body makes large numbers of cells each day to replace those that get destroyed. Folate is needed when new cells are made. For example, without folate the number of new red blood cells we manufacture daily would be greatly diminished. This condition is called anemia.

A one cup serving of turnip greens supplies 43% of your daily required intake.

A one cup serving of turnip greens also contains only 28 calories but will supply a multitude of vitamins and minerals for your body. The following chart outlines the percentage daily value of several important nutrients in turnip greens.

Click the image to view larger.

So how does one prepare this wondrous vegetable?
Turnip greens contain quite a lot of calcium which can make them bitter in taste to some people. If so, choose recipes that blend the greens with other ingredients. If you don’t mind the taste (really no worse than Swiss Chard or Beet Greens) simply steam or boil in very little water and serve with butter or margarine.

Turnip Greens can also be “creamed” (sautéed with garlic and onion and then some cream added at the last minute) or mixed into any dish that calls for spinach or any other dark leafy green. It could be substituted in Indian saag recipes with paneer, or in a soufflé instead of spinach.

The easiest way to purchase turnip greens would probably be at a Farmers Market. Vendors at places that sell vegetables straight from the farm often include the greens as a "bonus" when you purchase. It's really amazing, because for the price of one vegetable you get two.

A note: because of their (un)popularity, turnip greens do not command the highest of prices in the grocery store. Especially in relation to spinach and some of the other greens, that incidentally don’t have the same nutrient values as turnip greens.

Two great recipes

Photo: skampy, Flickr ccl
1. Here’s an unusual and simple recipe that lends a spicy twist to the green on your plate. The original recipe was posted by s’kat on January 2002. The original recipe can be found at I thank her very much.

Chile-Vinegar Turnip Greens
Prep: 5 min  |  Cook: 50 min  |  Makes 4 servings
1-1/2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (1 lb) bag turnip greens, chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 teaspoons chili paste with garlic
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Heat oil in stockpot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds or until lightly browned. Add greens and saute 5 minutes, or until wilted. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and cook 45 minutes. (I would check progress at 15 minutes myself.)

2. If you want to really be healthy, try combining turnip greens with the wondrous health benefits of eating salmon, as in the following recipe which was found on (believe it or not).

Photo and recipe: mcav0y, Flickr ccl
Salmon and braised turnip greens*
3 strips of bacon, fried and crumbled
3 garlic chives, chopped
1 fillet of salmon
1 lb of turnip greens (cleaned and de-ribbed)
2 tsp of seasoning salt
balsamic vinegar

Cook bacon in sautee pan. Remove bacon and set aside. Use bacon drippings to fry garlic chives. Cook for about 2 minutes until lightly browned.

Add turnip greens and sautee for 4-7 minutes. While greens are cooking, rinse and pat dry salmon fillet. Sprinkle with seasoned salt and rub in.

Remove turnip greens and plate, sprinkle the crumbled bacon and balsamic vinegar on greens.
Place salmon, flesh side down in hot pan that the turnips just left. Cook on medium-high heat for 3 min to sear top. Flip so that skin side is down. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Remove and place on plate over greens.

That sounds pretty good if you ask me….

* This recipe didn't say, but I would imagine 1 lb of turnip greens would serve 3-4 people, so the amount of salmon purchased should reflect those number of servings.


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1 comment:

  1. I just came across this post. That's my salmon/greens picture and recipe! Thanks for sharing it (and citing your source). It's one of my favorite mid-summer meals. Enjoy!