A turnip for the looks

Five weeks now without a car, although the insurance company promises me it’ll be fixed on Wednesday. Promises, promises.

Having no car, even in Canberra, even in winter, has been absolutely fine until this last week when I’d already been sick for a week when both the kids got really crook. Bit of a bugger walking a five year old home from the doctor and having to wait while he vomits because he’s been coughing so hard. Could be worse, of course, as no-one has cancer (we hope) and everyone has all their limbs, but I felt sorry for the little bugger all the same.

So on Saturday morning I pounced on my dear friend Steevy when he dropped by IN HIS CAR and inveigled him into taking us to Choku Bai Jo. It was lovely to see Cristy, Paul and Lily there, even though I had to confess that I was buying a bunch of baby turnips just because they were tiny! (the largest nearly an inch wide) and cute! although I had no idea what I was going to do with them.

Pasta with baby turnips, bacon and turnip greens

This needs about 10 minutes preparation time and up to 15 minutes to cook, depending on the pasta you choose (wholemeal spirals for us). Will serve 3 adults or 2 adults and two kids.


1 bunch baby turnips, washed thoroughly with the greens cut into 3-4 cm lengths.
2 rashers bacon
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
toasted walnut fragments
romano cheese, grated finely
black pepper
a sturdy pasta that you like


Put on a big pot of water to boil.

I’d planned to leave a little of the stems on the turnip bulbs, Japanese-style but was defeated by the tiny grit filled folds of stem and cleanly beheaded them before slicing each one into two or three thick slices. Go with whatever you’ve got the patience for.

Parboil the turnips for a minute or so and retrieve them. Add the turnip greens to the pot for just a minute and drain them, then add salt and the pasta to the pot.

Chop the bacon into 1 cm slices and fry gently. I only had that poxy flabby packet bacon – thanks, Dad – so cooked it veerrrrrrry slowly until it had crisped gently and then splashed on some some Camellia Oil. I have fallen in love with Camellia Oil thanks (again) to Fuchsia Dunlop – it’s earthy, peppery and delicious. Add in the crushed garlic and turnips and after a few minutes stir through the greens. In just a minute the pasta will be ready, and you can throw some in the pan.


Serve in a nice deep bowl, and sprinkle generously with parsley and walnuts and a bit less generously with cheese and pepper. The turnips are mellow and subtle, the greens are zingy and delicious and the pasta gives you enough energy to chase children all afternoon. Ann, you may omit the bacon, but then you’d want to add some salt.

So now I have to work out what to do with the cavolo nero (aka Tuscan kale, black kale or dinosaur kale) that was the other thing I couldn’t resist …

cavolo nero

15 thoughts on “A turnip for the looks

  1. Cavolo nero? Ribolata is the first thing that springs to mind. It is the weather for it. Maybe it’ll help you all get better too. The turnips look nice as does the way you prepared them. I do love winter veg.

  2. Kale goes with Polish sausage. Preferably the ones at the Vic Market that have “Caution: contains garlic” signs, but you probably wont fly to Melbourne to buy garlicky snags.

  3. Kirsty – I think I will make some, but will have to read half a dozen recipes first of course! I also deeply love winter veg – we had the first of the cavolo nero tonight with a chestnut vinaigrette and it rocked.

    kate, I’m not sure about Polish sausages. Not sure at all.

  4. Man I heard Tony Joe sing about it but I never heard of anyone eatin’ Turnip Greens ’til now but.

    Down there we have a plant that grows out in the
    woods and the fields,
    looks somethin’ like a turnip green.
    Everybody calls it Polk salad. Polk salad.

    Used to know a girl that lived down there and
    she’d go out in the evenings and pick a mess of it…
    Carry it home and cook it for supper, ’cause that’s about all they had to eat,
    But they did all right

  5. Not my fault you have a filthy filthy mind.

    Now I may get the giggles every time I walk past the Polish Deli and it will be your fault that I will look like a madwoman laughing for no reason.

  6. FX, that was tops, thanks. And yeah, you want your turnip greens young and purdy.

    Cristy, I knew you were teasing but I do have a bit of a tendency to buy exciting things rather than think through whether I can actually use something or already have a fridge full. We never throw food away, because we have chooks, but in general I’d rather eat it myself.

    Kate, I am very sorry but I have been dying to use that picture. You made me verrrry happy.

  7. Pretty sure Polk salad is a very different kettle of fish, but I guess Annie could have been (living up to her name and) substitutin’

    This looks fatastic akshly. I’ve been banging on about beet greens and radish greens 4 evahs – can’t stand to see chumps just chuck them in the bin.

    For the vege-patch minded, you could have them all year round I betcha – if turnips are as much like radishes as they look. So very easy to grow.

  8. Turnips need the cold soil. All year round in Australian cold zones, similar growing season to onions.

    I was unfamiliar with black kale until the farmer I get veg from (she’s called Aphrodite) had some. I love it. I’ll plant some next Autumn. I think it’ll look nice in amongst the roses.

  9. I love beet greens, too. And although this was delicious, some garlic and olive oil is all little tender greens like these need.

    Laura, I am extremely pleased that your farmer is called Aphrodite.

  10. Easy Tuscan kale recipe – wash and strip leaves off stems. Saute some onion in a big pan or pot with olive oil. Put in kale, add salt and pepper to taste. Saute till it goes floppy. Takes ages. At some point add some walnuts. You might need to add some water or stock if the kale starts sticking before it’s floppy. Thyme is nice in there too. It’s a fabulous winter veg – so dark green it even looks like it’s full of iron and other goodness!

  11. We had cavolo nero the other night, boiled for a while, set aside, boil spuds and carrots in the cavolo nero water while you chop the CN. Saute some onions, garlic and Polish sausage to stick on the top (unless you giggle too much to buy sausage, then you can be veggo) and serve with rye bread and lots of seedy mustard. Loving myself sick after I made that one.

  12. But did you take a picture? If you did, email it to me and I’ll put it in your comment.

    Most of the cavolo nero ended up in a Ribollita using the River Cafe recipe from here, but a handful of stelline (little star shaped pasta) instead of crustless stale ciabatta torn into one inch pieces.

  13. Pingback: Sichuanese Hotpot — Progressive Dinner Party

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