Simple Art of Cooking: Spring Greens Are Just the Start!

michelsun Collection: iStock

The opening of farmstands is a celebration for the local community. I stopped in at the Green Thumb, the organic farm in Water Mill, happy to catch up with Jo Halsey after the winter. As a result of the harsh winter there were slim pickings, yet I spied burly bunches of kale and collards, carrots, scallions and leafy lettuces. Arugula and radishes from the greenhouse will be available soon.

Jo suggested I try a bunch of turnip greens. “Turnip greens—what do I do with them?” I asked, and she was happy to help. The crisp, bright green bunch was appealing and easy to work with. I pulled the leaves from their thick stems, blanched them, then sautéed the greens with slivered garlic and a bit of pepper flakes in extra virgin olive oil. The dish had a special taste with an extra kick.

“The turnips don’t seem to have much life in the beginning, but the greens are in better condition,” said Larry Halsey. I can report that  their greens were full of life and delicious.  I look forward to more variety as the season progresses and I wish you all a happy spring!

Turnip greens, popular in the South, are a new taste for me.

Serves 4

2 bunches turnip greens, about 1 pound each
Coarse salt for cooking the greens
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Pinches of hot pepper flakes to your taste
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

1. Pull the leaves from the turnip green stems and place in a colander. Rinse well. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and put in the greens to cover. With lid ajar, cook the greens about 6 or 7 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold running water to stop the cooking. Can be done ahead to this point.

2. When ready to serve, heat olive oil in a skillet and add the garlic and hot pepper flakes. Sauté for a minute or so, add the greens and salt and pepper to taste. Toss the mixture for a few minutes until heated through and serve.

If using organic carrots, the peel will slide off the cooked pieces; discard the peel, preserving most of the carrot.

Serves 4 to 6

1 bunch carrots
4 to 5 scallions, white and light green parts
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Scrub carrots clean, or peel if not organic. Trim and cut them on the diagonal or roll cut Chinese style, about 3/4–inch thick. Cook them in boiling salted water for 10 to 12 minutes and drain under a spray of cold water. Trim scallions and discard any bruised greens and core. Rinse and dry each vegetable with paper towels.

2. Heat oil and butter in a large skillet. Put in scallions and sauté for a minute or so. Add the carrots and season with salt and pepper. Toss to mix the vegetables and heat through to serve. The recipe can be prepared ahead and heated through in the microwave for serving.

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