Give Turnip Greens The Italian Treatment

Purple turnips: Credit: whitetag
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Purple turnips: Credit: whitetag


By Clifford A. Wright (Zester Daily)

Mick Jagger nailed one problem with turnip greens when he sang “Down Home Girl” in 1964:

Lord I swear the perfume you wear

Was made out of turnip greens

And every time I kiss you girl

It tastes like pork and beans.

The songwriters, Jerry Leiber and Artie Butler, were two Jewish boys from Baltimore and Long Island, respectively, who were unlikely ever to have eaten turnip greens and pork and beans. The song was first sung by Alvin Robinson, but became well known when the Rolling Stones recorded it in Los Angeles in November 1964.

Those turnip greens were on a plate somewhere “down home” in Louisiana. Turnip greens are poor people’s food and you’ll almost never find them in a modern Cajun or Creole cookbook unless they get tossed into a gumbo z’herbes.

Yes there is a problem with smell, as is true with all the cruciferous vegetables. But the one group of people who do something with turnip greens other than cook them with a ham hock are the Italians, who also are a major part of New Orleans’ culinary heritage. One classic preparation would be a dish of boiled turnip greens dressed with fried fresh bread crumbs.


Cime De Rapa, Turnip Greens
Cime De Rapa, Turnip Greens

Turnip Greens With Fried Bread Crumbs

In Italian, “cime” can refer to turnip greens, rapini or broccoli rabe, any of which can be used for this preparation. This is a very simple preparation and so although it’s delicious, it is essential to use the proper ration of olive oil, bread crumbs and salt to the greens. Every bite has a nice texture to it.

Serves 4

2 pounds turnip greens, rapini or broccoli rabe

Salt to taste

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 cups fresh bread crumbs

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat, salt lightly then cook the greens until soft but still bright green, about 10 minutes. Drain well in a strainer, pressing out excess liquid with the back of a wooden spoon. Chop the greens coarsely.

2. In a nonstick sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, then cook stirring the bread crumbs until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes. Add the greens and cook, tossing, until mixed well with the bread crumbs, about 1 minute. Season with salt and serve.


Copyright 2016 Clifford A. Wright via Zester Daily and Reuters Media Express

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