Turnip greens…

Loose mustard greens

While having leisurely Sunday morning coffee I was browsing through the Huffington Post and discovered a presentation on rediscovering mustard greens (though I didn’t realize that they were lost or misplaced). If mustard greens need rediscovery, then perhaps turnip greens need rediscovery (or just discovery) too. One of my favorite things to do with heartier greens (those that need longer cooking, unlike spinach) like collards, mustard, kale, dandelion, or chard is to braise them with sausages for a one-pot meal that is easy to make in any quantity–and reheats and freezes well.

Just recently I was the happy recipient of a LOT of turnip greens from a gardener who likes the bottoms–the turnips and not the green tops. Some of these were older–so a bit spicier, with some of the “horseradish” tang that you find in mustard greens as well.

Even though it was warm weather, I had just started an intense indexing project and wanted some easy food–braised greens with sausage.  No need for a recipe and certainly not labor-intensive or needing a lot of attention while it cooked. (I thought about using the pressure cooker, or the slow cooker but just did this on the stove-top this time)

hot italian sausage IMG_6092I started by dicing and sautéing a large onion, then added a mix of sweet and hot Italian sausage, removed from the casings, to brown lightly.  Of course it needed garlic–about half a dozen large cloves, minced. (The garlic mellows a lot during cooking.)  Since the greens had their own “heat” and I had used hot Italian sausage, I didn’t add the hot red pepper flakes that I would have used with other sausages, or other greens–e.g. kale or collards.

Once the garlic had sautéed enough to become aromatic, I added the washed and cut up greens (still wet from washing) and a can of diced tomatoes. In a tightly lidded pot, I left this over low heat until the greens were almost tender–about 45 minutes. (Since these were older turnip greens, I did remove the stems before cooking.)

In went one can (rinsed) of pinto beans (not on the low-carb diet, but…) and continued to cook about 30 minutes more to let the beans pick up some of the flavor of the greens and the sausage. Home-cooked dried beans would have been better, but since I didn’t have any of those in the freezer, and hadn’t planned ahead–canned ones had to do for now.

And there you have it, a quick supper, and a couple of servings for the freezer for several more quick, comforting meals.  Since the greens were spicy, the sweet Italian sausage added a nice counterpoint. I’m glad to have some tucked away in the freezer since I suspect that will be the last of the turnip greens for the summer–as the weather gets hotter the greens get a bit more assertive. If I’m lucky and there are more, I’ll probably do this again, but omit the hot Italian sausage. Or think about doing this with lamb sausage…so many possibilities, and so easy–and reasonably healthy as well.

All you need to add is a glass of a nice sassy, robust red wine, and maybe some good crusty bread (if you’re not on a low-card diet). A son goût!

Cool-weather one-dish meals

links of hot Italian sausage

hot Italian sausage

Come cool (or cold weather) I’m ready  for hearty, warming food (healthy and simple is fine too).  One of my favorites because it  will reheat well if there are leftovers, it’s easily modified if there are second runs,  there’s nothing fixed about the quantity, and there are SO many variations with seasonal ingredients is a recipe from Jacques Pepin’s The Short-cut Cook for a stew of sausage, greens and beans.  It can be made from ingredients found in your supermarket (Harris Teeter, in my case).

This serves six, but it’s easily halved and it’s freezer-friendly for later use.  I’m reproducing and adapting the basic recipe here for you:

loose mustard greens (Harris Teeter Fresh Market)

mustard greens

Sausage Stew with Mustard Greens and Beans (p. 178)


  • 1-1/4 pounds of hot Italian sausage
  • 2 onions (about 8 ounces total) peeled and quartered.
  • 2 cans (1 pound each) red kidney beans
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, minced (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped mustard greens


  • Divide the sausage meat and form into balls with your hands (dampened).
  • In  a heavy pot, over medium-to-low heat, cook the meatballs for about so minutes covered, turning about every 5 minutes, until they begin to brown.
  • Add the onions and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add the beans (with their liquid), the jalapeño pepper, the cumin.
  • Bring to a boil and cook gently for about 10 minutes.
  • add the mustard greens, allowing them to thaw in the hot liquid for a few minutes and then break them up.
  • Cover and cook for about 10 minutes longer (or for a total of 50 minutes)
dried beans

dried beans

Now, how many variations are there on this basic recipe?  Well, go look at the canned beans or the dried beans…there are so many possibilities.  Even though this recipe calls for the liquid from the canned beans, I really don’t like the taste so I drain and rinse the beans and substitute an equal amount of water or chicken stock instead…but do whatever works for you.  If you’ve cooked your own dried beans, then by all means use the liquid from the beans.

produce displace of winter greens

winter greens

Now go check out the frozen greens in the supermarket–or the fresh ones in the produce department. (I don’t like spinach in this since it’s so tender that  it cooks to slime–but kale, collards, mustard, even cabbage will work–any of the “tough” greens that need longer cooking).

You want more variations?  Okay go to the meat department and check out the varieties of sausage that are available–polish sausages, bratwurst, and if you’re lucky, you’ll find store-made fresh sausages: bangers, lamb sausages, chicken sausages, bratwurst, et cetera.  So there are lots of variations with some minor changes in seasoning.  I know that If I ask, I can find out what seasoning is in the sausages, and adjust the seasoning of my one-dish meal accordingly.  When you want to make a single-serving, you can buy just one or two sausages.

sausages in display case in meat department of Harris Teeter


If you like this sort of thing, here a link to The Kitchn where you’ll find a great sounding recipe for beans and greens with a slightly different touch.  These are such versatile ingredients–and just add a bit of rice or pasta and you’ve got a whole meal, with or without the meat.