Turnip Greens via The Silver Spoon

It took us way to long to discover that turnip greens are edible. They’re better than the turnips themselves, in our opinion. So how did we finally figure this out? The answer is by thumbing through a cookbook everybody interested in growing their own vegetables should own, The Silver Spoon*, which has a section devoted just to turnip green recipes.

The Silver Spoon is a 1,263 page cookbook recently translated into English. It’s the Joy of Cooking for Italians, except instead of tuna noodle casseroles and other American cooking abominations, the Silver Spoon will tell you what to do with a cardoon, a carp, or the aforementioned turnip greens among many other edibles. While we appreciate the crusty old Joy of Cooking’s advice on cooking raccoon, The Silver Spoon is so good that we feel like throwing out all the other cookbooks we have.

But back to the greens. Turnip greens have massive quantities of vitamins A, C and K and a pleasant mild taste. The leaves have some barbs on them which disappear during cooking. In past years we have grown an Italian variety called Rapa da Foglia senza Testa or “rabe without a head”. A better name for it would be “turnips without the turnips”, as it’s a kind of turnip green. This year we’re growing turnips for Ms. Homegrown Revolution’s fermentation experiments and the greens have been a side-benefit.

*Note this link will take you to our new online bookstore. Tacky? Perhaps. But we’re capitalists.

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  1. Oh, I knew they were edible at a very young age, when I was forced to eat “turnips and greens” made by my southern grandmother. I don’t know why I gagged, I’m guessing either it could have been my young taste buds, or the southern way of overcooking vegetables, maybe both, but ewww!

    My husband likes turnips, so I bought some and actually like them mashed. So I saved the greens to try the next day, and liked those too. I didn’t cook them the “southern” way, but it could have been that my taste buds settled with age.

    Here’s some other things I’ve recently learned were edible:

    sweet potato vine

    all of the winged bean (aka asparagus pea, goa bean, and some other names I forget now) is edible

    sunflowers before the petals open are supposed to taste like artichoke, I haven’t tried it yet, but will try it this season

    all of the parts of chayote (also known by many different names in different parts of the world) are edible but I’ve only tried the squash part (the fruit) because I didn’t know I could eat the seed at the time.

  2. Turnip greens are fantastic. In my family we ate them the “southern way” being from that part of the US. Our Southern Way was not quite cooked as much as some people have experienced. Other really nice things you prepare in a similar way are Watercress (Crissy Greens in Southern lingo), Mustard Greens, Collard Greens, Suise(or Swiss)Chard, Kale and the ever abundant Dandelion. Dandelions are a most useful food source. The leaves make a nice green either cooked or raw. The stems on young dandelions can be cooked and have a flavor that is to me a cross between asparagus and turnip greens. The flower when it is golden can be used to make a sort of tea and the roots have been roasted and used as a coffee substitute or extender. Southern cooking owes a lot to the creativity that comes from being very poor. My Grandfather fed his 5 children during the Great Depression with the aid of gardening, fishing and hunting. He knew just about everything that was good to eat. That was lot of fun for a small boy to learn about.

  3. The japanese style is to pickle them in salt brine. You can also sautee them. Yum! Also, you can discover what greens are edible by eating the leaves. Just taste them. The edible ones taste like “food”.

  4. In India my Mom makes it stir-fried with potatoes. I found turnip with leaves in the supermarket and was making sure whether its edible.You can find answer to all sort of questions on the internet. Radish and pumpkin greens are also edible.

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