Using up the Garden: Turnip Greens

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I haven’t been here for quite a while now. A little over a month ago, I broke my right hand. Since then, I haven’t been doing much of anything except for taking pain medication, napping, having surgery on my hand, and then lots of hand exercises. Fortunately this coincided with a slow period in the garden, so I didn’t lose as much produce as I might have. I couldn’t chop anything or even eat much, so I did lose some, but an abrupt turn to colder weather meant that the warm weather crops mostly died off all at once, before the cooler weather stuff was ready to harvest.
I am starting to feel a bit better now, though, so I have been anxiously awaiting my Brussel’s sprouts and beets and turnips. I have been reminding myself to be patient, even though I always want fresh stuff from the garden all the time! But when Marsha came to take care of the garden yesterday, she pointed out that I could get something from the garden now–turnip greens! When I was growig up, my family was not really the greens eating type (more like the canned green beans or corn type,) so it just didn’t occur to me that I could eat the green part, too, even though I have eaten greens as an adult. I was very excited to realize I could go out and pick something for dinner. That is my favorite part of the garden–the way I go out right before I start cooking and pick some ingredients. So cool!
I went out tonight and picked a big pile of turnip greens and an Anaheim chili. Marsha left me some collard greens yesterday, so I used those, too. I de-ribbed the greens, then washed them and chopped them and put them in boiling water for about 10 minutes. While that was cooking, I chopped up the chili and a shallot (I am getting better, but I am still a bit slow…) Then I took the greens out of the water with a slotted spoon, and added a pound of whole wheat pasta. While the pasta was cooking, I put a good amount of olive oil in a skillet, and added some minced garlic from a jar and the shallot and chili. I was using the last of the garlic, so I ladled a little bit of the pasta water into the jar to get all the garlicy goodness and set it aside. When the veggies were softened, I added a few shakes of red pepper flakes, then the greens, and cooked for about 2 more minutes, tossing to coat them in the garlicy oil. When the pasta was done, I drained it quickly, then added it to the skillet with the greens. I added the extra garlicy pasta water from the jar at this point, too. If I was using fresh garlic, I would have taken some of the pasta water out before draining to add to the greens and pasta.
This was so good! I was worried I might find it bland, but it had a nice warm finish without being too spicy, if that makes sense. Even the girl liked it (the boy is off spending the night with a friend, but I am sure he would have liked it, too.) This garden is definitely the gift that keeps giving–fresh, healthy food, and new vegetables that the whole family enjoys!

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