Turnip Greens

I like eating greens, but I’m not fond of strong, sometimes bitter and sharp leaves, like mustard greens and collards. Sure, you can cook them down with vinegar and pork, but then you lose that vegetable-ness which is what I like about leafy foods in the first place. So, I don’t grow those, but I do plant turnips, which have big and bold tops. When I harvest the turnips, I confess to feeding the tops to the goats and chickens. My animals eat them with enthusiasm, and so I don’t feel guilty about wasting good food. Win-win!

But, early in the summer, when the greens are still young and a tad sweeter, I do eat them. The turnips needed thinning.

turnip greens

I trimmed off the bottoms (fed those to the chickens) and had a bowlful of tender leafy greens. I washed them very well and spun dry in a salad spinner. I turned the heat on high under my cast iron skillet and put in a dollop of that good bacon grease that I keep in the fridge.

bacon grease

I added greens to the skillet,

greens in pan

and turned over constantly with tongs (don’t just stir!)


It took just a couple of minutes for the greens to wilt down to exactly how I like them, they’re still bright green, but tender and cooked through.


I put this batch onto a flour tortilla, added beans (cooked in a homemade tomato sauce) and cheese to make a burrito.


The next night I cooked up the rest of the turnip greens, and tossed them in with spaghetti and feta cheese, and then I ground fresh black pepper generously over the dish. Delicious.



  1. My uncle use to dig them up and eat them raw after he washed them in the spicket. Though the way we our house cook greens, you won’t like. I don’t think I could them any other way.

  2. Both these recipes look delicious! This is the first year I’ve grown turnips. I planted a few rows for the turnips and a few rows for the greens. The greens are getting big enough to harvest and since I’ve never cooked turnip greens I was going to look for a recipe. I’m going to pick some of the greens and make the pasta dish for supper tonight. Thanks Terry for sharing your recipe.

  3. I have never eaten a turnip or the greens…..I think I will have to give it a try!

  4. Sounds yummy! I’ve been adding dino kale (cut into thin pieces) into everything from spaghetti, eggs & burritos too. I leave them raw & they have a broccoli taste to them. It’s healthy and yummy. Turnip greens are next on my list!

  5. In the fall I grow collard greens for me and my girls. I like to stir fry mine in olive oil and minced garlic. The girls say they will take theirs raw please.

  6. I grow the little white turnips, and harvest them when they’re about an inch across. Wash and slice them and throw them in a pan with a little olive oil and butter, and when they’re about done I throw in the greens, washed and chopped. If I have beets I’ll add them too. Quick, easy and delicious! A great lunch.

  7. Have you ever fried cabbage using bacon grease? Yummy,

    I love turnips in my beef soup. They stay firm, they don’t turn to mush.