Judith Hausman
October 2, 2013


Photo by Judith Hausman

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Try some turnip greens this season.

I recently volunteered at a local food-bank garden and came home with a bonus bag of tender turnip thinnings. The farmer grows a lot of turnips in this unfenced plot (that was once the lawn of a stately home) because the deer seem to leave them alone. Lucky me left the gardens with a big bunch of the smallest turnip leaves that will cook down to a good dinner’s-worth.

There are basically two ways, I think, to prepare these pleasantly bitter greens. 

One is Italian-ish and vegetarian. A classic quick sauté with garlic, plenty of olive oil and a grind of red pepper flakes is still classically delicious and a fine way to treat almost any greens. 

The other is American Southish; that is, more time in the pan over lower heat with bacon or ham hocks. Collards (or even kale) can stew even longer this way than these baby turnip greens (or chard or mustard or spinach) would.

I decided to go full-bore down-home this time and make a meal of it. I still have some local bacon in the freezer, some CSA plum tomatoes to dice in when the greens are cooked and a spare ear of farmstand corn I can scrape into a simple batch of cornbread batter. I can also make use of the second round of scallions and the plump red jalapenos that were recently in my share. 

Of course, you can use any greens, any member of the onion family, any peppers (or omit them), frozen corn, any tomatoes (or a third cup of prepared salsa) and no bacon if you prefer. You’ll still get a perfect warm-up, one-dish September dinner.

Servings: 6



  • 3 to 5 slices good bacon, chopped
  • 3 to 5 small scallions, diced (or 1 small onion, diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 to 8 cups cleaned, de-stemmed young turnip greens, chopped
  • 1/2 hot pepper (or to taste), de-seeded and minced
  • 2 to 4 plum tomatoes, diced


  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk (sour milk or buttermilk are even better)
  • 4 tablespoons oil or melted butter
  • kernels cut from one ear of cooked corn on the cob (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 egg


In a large, ovenproof skillet, sauté the bacon until much of the fat is rendered but the meat is not too crisp. Pour off all but about 1 to 3 tablespoons of fat. Add all of the vegetables, except the tomatoes, to the pan and cook slowly, covering briefly to help the greens wilt down. If the mix appears too dry, add a little water or broth to the pan. When the greens are soft (10 to 12 minutes), add the tomatoes and turn off the heat.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix all dry ingredients for the cornbread in a medium bowl. Beat together all wet ingredients in a measuring cup, mix in the corn and add all at once to the dry; do not over stir. Pour the batter over the cooked greens.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the cornbread is golden brown. Serve in wedges.

You might also enjoy these Locavore Recipes:

So Many Greens

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