My first meal featuring Shine Springs Farm organically-grown produce featured sautéed turnip greens over whole wheat pasta. Turnip greens are one of the healthiest foods you can eat, but you don’t often find them on the menu.
Most people, Southerners at least, think of turnip greens as something you stew for an hour or so (at least) and flavor with a ham hock.
But that doesn’t do justice to the lowly, underrated turnip green. When the greens are tender (like right now), you can wash simply serve turnip greens salad-like alone, or in a mix. Before they’re cooked, turnip greens have a bit of a tang, somewhat like mustard greens. I love the spice, myself, but not everyone is a fan. Steam-cooking greens a way to enhance the nutritional value while toning down the tang.
One of my favorite ways to cook turnip greens as a main dish is to sauté them, often with a smattering of other vegetables, and serve over pasta. That’s how I prepared my turnip greens today (details below).
I was really excited to pinch off a sizable quantity of tender, young turnip green leaves to start my season of eating some of the real food I’m growing at Shine Springs Farm. If you look closely, you might also notice a smattering of pak choi leaves in the mix.
Health Benefits of Turnip Greens
In addition to high calcium content, turnip greens offer up high levels of glucosinolate, a phytonutrient with cancer-prevention properties. And turnip greens also provide anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering benefits. Whole Foods offers a thorough summary of peer-reviewed research on the health benefits of turnip greens (along with a list of references).
Turnip greens are maxed out on Vitamin A, a key nutrient in maintaining healthy eyes. They’re also high in Vitamin C and iron, and many other nutrients.
Turnip greens are practically calorie-free—29 calories in a cup of cooked greens (assuming no added oils or other ingredients).
How to Prepare Sautéed Turnip Greens Over Pasta
- Pasta or grain (your choice). I used organic, whole wheat capellini.
- Small quantity of extra virgin olive oil (about 1-2 tablespoons)
- Turnip greens: You’ll need about 8-oz of greens per person, because they cook down.
- Small onion, chopped
- Garlic clove, chopped
- Green or red peppers, as desired (I used a green jalapeno, a red jalapeno, and reddish-orange banana pepper from my backyard garden). Best to remove the seeds, if you don’t want a lot of heat
- Fresh, sliced mushrooms (optional)
- Other seasonings to taste: I used fresh ground black pepper. I tend not to use much salt, so I don’t salt these greens, but you may want to add salt. Instead of salt, I grated about 1/2 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese over the finished dish at the time I served it.
Step One: Prepare the pasta or other grain as you like it.
Step Two: Wash the turnip greens to remove any dirt. I typically rinse in clear water about 3-4 times, depending on how much debris the greens seem to be carrying. Since I’m growing pesticide-free, I wasn’t concerned about trying to eliminate pesticides, but we did get some rain Saturday morning, so I had to remove some sandy-dirt from the leaves.
Step Three: Saute a small chopped onion, chopped garlic clove and chopped peppers (to taste) in olive oil for about 2-3 minutes.
Step Four: Add the turnip greens and continue to sauté until the greens cook down. I added the greens in two batches, cooking down the first for a couple of minutes, then adding the remainder, along with the mushrooms (optional). I also threw in about 1/8 cup of water to help steam the greens. This process takes about 4-6 minutes, depending on how many servings you’re making. Cover and steam for another minute or two, to help tenderize the greens.
Step Five: Remove from heat and serve the greens over the pasta. I grated a bit of Parmesan cheese over the greens.
In addition to the 100% organically-grown produce that I’m growing, my dad also has a huge field of turnip greens that he’s growing sustainably but wouldn’t fully qualify as organic or certified naturally grown).
If you’re in the Shoals or Birmingham and are interested in buying turnip greens, let us know at www.facebook.com/ShineSpringsFarm or via email: shine springs farm -at- gmail.com.