Do you know what turnip greens are? They essentially are the turnip flowers who still have to bloom. They are commonly used in Puglia, since ancient times, because it is a food very low in calories with antioxidant properties and rich in vitamins, polyphenols and other substances like folic acid, that is useful to recover from stress.
How did turnip greens arrived in Puglia?
Turnip greens are not native to Puglia and not even to Italia. According to some sources, its first seeds were imported in the Middle Age by the Genoese traders from the Far East, with the French being the first to cultivate these vegetables. Another theory states that turnip greens arrived later in the old continent, around the seventeenth century, under the name of Syrian cabbage. According to some historical records from that century, the first large-scale cultivation of turnip greens was found in the Kingdom of Napoli and our region was part of it.
What recipes can be prepared with turnip greens?
These flowers are usually harvested between the end of January and the beginning of February. The turnip greens are used to prepare a typical Apulian dish that in Italia everyone knows: orecchiette con le cime di rapa, i.e. orecchiette (small ears) pasta with turnip greens. They can also be eaten as a side to other dishes just stewed or sautèed in a pan with some olive oil, garlic and chili pepper or to be used paired with sausage or on top of a focaccia pugliese.
A symbolic food in Puglia
It is one of the most symbolic vegetable food eaten in northern and central Puglia during winter time, thanks to its nutritional properties and because of its good flavor: it tastes quite bitter, but also very delicate and it is rich in pungency. Therefore, turnip greens give a typical aftertaste to the dishes it is used for, that are subsequently enriched by its use. In conclusion, it is one of the most famous vegetables in our region, because of its adaptability to many recipes and its peculiar taste.
If you want to taste this vegetable and replicate the most traditional Apulian pasta recipe, you can click here and follow the making of it step by step.