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Spice of Life: Recipe won’t have you turning nose up at greens

Last Modified: Wednesday, December 26, 2012 1:20 PM

By Eric Cormier / American Press

My mom, in all the goodness a mother could muster, looked at me and asked if I wanted some turnips that a family friend gave her.

I’m not the type of guy who turns down food too often, but this opportunity was one that just didn’t excite me.

Nothing against turnips, but I have never fully understood the devotion that some vegetable lovers have towards the root vegetable.

“You don’t like turnips?” my mom asked.

“Nah. I just can’t get over that strong taste,” I explained.

She shook her head and grinned. I figured she unsuccessfully offered the vegetables to some other folks, too.

Considering that turnips are in season and the long standing tradition of greens are eaten during the start of a new year is upon us, I decided to share with you a greens, turnips and tasso dish.

Cooked greens are absolutely wonderful, especially when served with hot sauce and vinegar.

“Greens are good for you — everybody’s heard that one. But not everybody knows that greens are just plain good, too. They’re an institution in Cajun country. The best way to enjoy them is to serve them on the side in a bowl with lots of juice,” writes Terry Thompson-Anderson in “Cajun-Creole Cookin”.

That juice she refers to is known as “pot likker”.

That liquid, when made with smoked tasso, is enticing enough to make an anti-turnip loving human indulge in a few spoonfulls.

I still won’t take a bunch of turnips though. No matter what the recipe calls for or how much smoked meats is cooked with it, some vegetables are best eaten in doses.

Mixed greens with Turnips and Tasso


• 1 large bunch each: fresh collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, and kale, or any combination

2 medium onions, halved lengthwise and sliced thin

2 medium turnips, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced thin

4 ounces tasso or good-quality smoked ham

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup picante sauce

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper


Place all greens in sink or a large pot, fill to brim with lukewarm water. Let greens stand 15 minutes. Carefully remove greens from water without disturbing sandy silt that has settled to bottom.

Wash leaves under running water; tear leaves into small pieces, removing tough ribs. Place torn greens, onion, turnips, and tasso or ham in a 10 to 12-quart soup pot; fill to top with water. Add sugar, picante sauce, salt, and pepper.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; boil 5 minutes. Reduce heat; barely simmer, stirring occasionally 3 hours. Taste for seasoning; adjust if necessary. Greens should have lots of liquid left; add more water if necessary. Serve hot.

From “Cajun-Creole Cooking” by Terry Thompson-Anderson


Eric Cormier writes about food every Wednesday. Contact him at or 494-4090.

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