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The Many Uses of Turnip Greens

We're only a few days into January, but already turnip greens are some of my 2019 faves. Many cold-weather recipes call for root vegetables like turnips -- and believe me, I love them all, from stews to sides -- but if you aren't incorporating the rich green leaves often referred to as the "tops" into your dishes, then you're leaving a whole lot of nutrients on the cutting board.

Born into the same family as kale and broccoli, turnip tops provide health benefits comparable to any other green vegetable. They're chock full of vitamin K, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), vitamin C, folate, copper, manganese, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, and vitamin B6. This makes turnip greens good for eye health (Vitamin A), healthy hair and skin (Vitamin A), bone health and protection from fractures (Vitamin K), constipation (fiber), pre-natal health (folate), preventing heart disease and hypertension (dietary nitrate) and antioxidants. This is a vegetable worth growing and utilizing completely.

In my house, we love using turnip greens in the CityGirlGardener/@Food.That.Taste.Good no-lettuce salad. We've also been sautéing them the same way we would any other winter green -- with olive oil, onions and garlic. When picking ones to eat -- whether from the garden or the grocery store -- always remember that fresh turnip greens should have firm, deep green leaves. Smaller leaves will be tenderer with a milder flavor.

As for the root, we peel the turnip bottoms, cut them into bite sized chunks, add a little olive oil, season with fresh oregano, thyme, basil and parsley, then roast with other root vegetables like carrots, onions, beets, yams, garlic and radishes.

As a gardener, they make my current favorite list because it only takes a couple of days for them to germinate and, you can plant the seeds in zone 9 from fall to spring! Yeah!

*Remember: It's important to not overcook turnip greens in order to preserve their nutrients. According to WHFoods, a recent research study showed that a difference of even 1 or 2 minutes in cooking time can decrease the total chlorophyll content, total phenol content, and overall antioxidant capacity of the turnip greens. It's also important not to use too much salt when cooking turnips, as they a 55-gram cup of the raw greens contains 22 mg of sodium.

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