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Turnip Greens From Scratch

Updated on March 12, 2015
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Southern, Except Healthier

There are two secrets to making fantastic greens from scratch. The first is knowing how to soak them to remove the dirt and sand. The second is cooking the heck out of them until they are tender and melt-in-your mouth delicious. Over the years, I've tweaked a couple things in the traditional southern recipe to make these more healthful. Everyone knows that we southerners put bacon in everything. I've figured out that by substituting extra virgin olive oil or canola oil that the taste is very similar and gives you a nice dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Get ready for a big bowl of yummy!

Turnip Greens From Scratch

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 45 min
Ready in: 1 hour 5 min
Yields: 4 generous servings
  • 2 bunches fresh turnip greens, (don't get the pre-chopped in a sack--these tend to have too many woody stems present)
  • 1 medium turnip
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, (may substitute canola oil)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar, (I always use apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 cups chicken stock, (the kind in the paper box)


  1. Take your first bunch of fresh turnip greens and chop into small pieces. Stop 3-4 inches from the bottom because this is all woody stem. Usually where the metal tie is is where I stop.
  2. Dump the chopped greens into a large bowl. I'm talking a big bowl---almost as big as a punchbowl. I have a plastic one I use that cost me a buck at Walmart. Anyway, fill the bowl with water to the top and all the greens will float to the top.
  3. Let the greens just sit there are a couple minutes. Occasionally, pat the top layer of greens with your hand, using the pressure you would to burp a baby. This loosens the sand and dirt from the greens, sinking to the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Remove the greens from the bowl of water into a colandar. (I do all this in my kitchen sink with my bowl on one side and my colandar in the other side). The way the greens are removed from the water is important so as not to pick up the dirt and sand. Splay your fingers apart and place both hands in the top half of the bowl of water and greens. Lift the greens out and place in the colandar. When all the greens are removed from the water, rinse out the bowl because it will be gritty from the sand and dirt.
  5. Return the greens in the colandar to the bowl for a 2nd soak. This is because it usually takes 2-3 times to remove all the grit. Repeat steps 2-4. If there is no grit left in the water this time, you're done rinsing. If there is grit residue still there, you must rinse a 3rd time. I've never had to rinse more than 3 times.
  6. Meanwhile, heat the oil on medium heat in a large pot on your stovetop. Add the freshly rinsed greens and stir around. I like to use a pair of tongs to do this because it does a really good job.
  7. While the greens are cooking down, tackle your second bunch of greens and repeat the above processes, adding them to the pot with the rest of the greens when they are clean.
  8. Add the salt, sugar, and vinegar to the pot of greens and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes. The greens will cook way down and start to become deliciously tender.
  9. Meanwhile, take your turnip and peel it. I like to use a potato peeler because it's quick and easy. Chop into small-medium chunks and add to the pot of greens.
  10. Add the chicken stock and bring to a bubble. Simmer gently with the lid halfway on for around 25 minutes. Taste-test to see if they are tender enough---otherwise simmer for 5-10 minutes more.
  11. Enjoy!
Bunches of fresh turnip greens can be purchased in the regular grocery store.
Bunches of fresh turnip greens can be purchased in the regular grocery store.
Soaking the greens removes dirt and sand.
Soaking the greens removes dirt and sand.
The greens wilt way down during the cooking process.
The greens wilt way down during the cooking process.
I promise after eating this, you'll always take the time to make this from scratch!
I promise after eating this, you'll always take the time to make this from scratch!


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