Turnips & Greens

Turnips and their greens are often overlooked, with good reason. They don't seem particularly interesting or tasty, but that's not quite true. Turnips are earthy with a texture like a waxy potato, and the greens are edible from leaf to stem, and have a slightly bitter, vegetal taste. The key is cooking them right — they need some smoked meat to add richness plus some salt and sugar to balance the bitterness. Give this hearty, nutritious, and inexpensive combo a place at your dinner table this winter. Yields 4 to 6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large white onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 medium turnips
  • 2 big bunches turnip greens
  • 1 large smoked ham hock or turkey part
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 dried chile peppers or ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Instructions:

  1. Large dice the onion. Slice the garlic cloves. Cut the turnips in half and then into ninths (three cuts one way, three cuts the other way), or quarters if smaller. Cut the turnip leaves into ribbons, then thinly slice the stems. Soak then wash the greens and stems thoroughly.
  2. In a pot over medium heat, sauté the onion, ham hock, chile peppers, and salt in the oil about 10 minutes until the onion is sweated and starting to color. Add the garlic and sauté another 5 minutes.
  3. Add the stock or water, turnips, then greens, in that order. Increase heat to medium high and cook with a lid on until greens have wilted significantly, stirring frequently. Then reduce heat to medium low, partially remove lid, and cook 30 minutes, until turnips are tender.
  4. Once done, stir in the sugar, then salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with white vinegar.