Food & Drink

Invite 'greenbacks' with fresh turnips and greens

Take part in an old Southern tradition of eating turnip greens and black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. The meal is said to guarantee "greenbacks" for the rest of the year.  (Alicia Ross)
Take part in an old Southern tradition of eating turnip greens and black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. The meal is said to guarantee "greenbacks" for the rest of the year. (Alicia Ross)

Call us superstitious, but we're simply not taking any chances this year on the New Year's Day food front. If ever we needed luck and money, probably like a lot of you, it's now. Don't want to lean too far toward whining, but don't you think the bank accounts could all use a boost?

Look no further than New Year’s Day turnip greens and a dish of black-eyed peas. Our grandmothers and mothers all swore to the power of eating greens on Jan. 1 to provide “greenbacks” for the rest of the year. And black-eyed peas were for luck – or for both luck and money in some Southern households.

We like to mix it up: Sometimes we’ll make collards, and other times we’ll sauté kale. But frankly, those other greens have not been working up to our expectations in the past few years. So this holiday, we’re betting on turnips – fresh turnips, and greens cooked just like Alicia’s grandmother used to make them.

We like to pair our turnips with the Black-eyed Pea Salad that you can find on our KitchenScoop.com website. It’s got a bit of diced ham so it’s hearty enough for a main dish.

So here’s to good luck and good eating in the new year! And, as always, thanks for reading us.

Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross are mothers whose cookbook is called “Desperation Dinners!” Send tales of woe or success and your favorite quick recipes to Desperation Dinners, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016 or bev-alicia@ desperationdinners.com.

Fresh Turnips and Greens

Makes 8 servings. Start to finish: about 40 minutes

2 large bunches (about 4 pounds) fresh turnips and greens (see Cook’s note)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Balsamic vinegar, for serving, optional

Cook’s note: Look for bunches with small turnips. Larger turnips are bitter and woody. The greens should be deep green and have few spots.

Cut the turnips from the greens, and scrub well under cool running water. Set aside. Cut the tough ends from the bottom of the greens. Fill a large bowl (or your sink) with cool water, and wash the greens thoroughly by dipping and swirling in the water. Drain the water, and repeat twice.

Coarsely chop the turnips and greens, and place in a 41/2-quart Dutch oven or soup pot. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the greens. Add the oil, sugar, salt and pepper. Place over high heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly, still maintaining a steady boil, and cook about 25 minutes, or until the turnip pieces and greens are soft. Drain and serve, with vinegar if desired.

Approximate nutritional value per serving: 84 calories (37 percent from fat), 4 grams fat (0.5 grams saturated), 0 milligrams cholesterol, 5.5 grams protein, 9 grams carbohydrates, 5.5 grams dietary fiber, 331.5 milligrams sodium

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