Author Notes: ”Grelos” (Sprouting Turnip Tops) is original from the North of Portugal and Spain (Galicia). This superb vegetable is also very popular in Northern Italy (Cima di Rapa) and it’s present in a number of classic Italian dishes including Orecchiete e Cima di Rapa.
They are in season in winter, are deep green with small yellow flowers which give them a nice bitter taste.
The main use of “grelos” in Portugal is in Rice with Turnip Greens, served as a side dish with fish or cod-fish. Some people cook it as my recipe, where the rice is dry and other people add extra stock so it’s a little runny. It is also widely used lightly boiled in very little water uncovered (otherwise they lose their green), squeezed and simply pan fried in olive oil and a whole garlic, which you will find as a vegetable side dish in most restaurants.
If you can’t find Turnip Tops the best substitute is Swiss Chard.
—Maria Teresa Jorge
cups long grain rice
cups water or light vegetable broth
cups or 1 big bunch fresh turnip sprouts leaves and flowers, washed and thick stems removed
medium carrot diced small
medium yellow onion finely chopped
garlic cloves finely chopped
tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Chop the onions finely.
- Chop the garlic cloves finely, removing the inner green part.
- Peel the carrot and dice in small cubes.
- Wash the turnip leaves 2 or 3 times to remove any earth attached. Remove the thicker stem, keep all the flowers and put in a colander to drain. 6 cups may seem a lot but when they wilt they become 1 cup, and the nice about this rice is to have a lot of greens, rather then one here and one there.
- Put the 3 cups of water or light vegetable broth in a pan to warm up.
- In a pan with a tight fitting lid, over medium heat, add the olive oil and the chopped onions, stir and fry for 2 minutes. Add the carrots, stir, add the garlic and let cook for 1 minute. The garlic browns quicker then the other vegetables so it goes in at last so it doesn’t burn.
- Add the turnip greens, stir to coat well with the olive oil and mix with the onions and carrots, put a tight fitting lid and reduce the heat to the minimum and cook for 5 minutes. When you add the greens the pan will be full but after 1 minute they will reduce and continue reducing and you’ll be surprised by how little you have after 5 minutes.
- Uncover, add the rice, stir very well to blend with all the vegetables, add the hot water or vegetable broth, season with salt and a little pepper, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a minimum and cover. Cook for 17 minutes WITHOUT ever opening the lid or stirring the rice.
Turn off the heat, let sit 3 minutes still covered. Then fluff up the rice and the vegetables.
Serve immediately as a side dish.