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Spaghetti with Turnip Greens

An easy and simple recipe but with all the taste of Southern Italy.

Turnip greens are the top green leaves of the turnips. They are not know very well outside of Italy but in Southern Italy they are a key ingredient on the table from winter to early spring.

With a few ingredients you can have a real taste of Southern Italy.



  • 2 pounds of Turnip greens

  • 4 anchovies fillets in oil

  • 0.8 lb of spaghetti

  • 1 garlic cloves (halved)

  • 1 chili peppers (roughly chopped)

  • 3 tbsp of Olive oil

  • Grated Pecorino Cheese


  1. Clean the turnips by discarding the hardest external leaves and the stalks. Keep only the florets and the smallest, tender leaves. Rinse them in water and put them aside in a colander.

  2. Bring a big pot of salted water to boil.

  3. When the water is boiling, add the turnip greens and cook for 10 minutes. Then, with the help of a slotted spoon, remove the greens from the pot and place them in the colander to let them drain. It is important you keep the cooking water because it will be used to cook the pasta!

  4. Bring back the water to a boil, add some extra salt, about a teaspoon. Cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions.

  5. While the pasta is cooking, grab a big saucepan. Add 3 tbsp of olive oil, anchovies fillets, garlic, and chilly.

  6. Sauté on medium heat, until the garlic turns to gold and the anchovies fillets start to melt. At this point, you can discard the garlic if you are not a fan.

  7. At this point add the turnip greens to the pan and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently and add about 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water. This will help create a creamier condiment.

  8. Once the spaghetti is cooked, drain and add them to the pan with the greens. While draining the pasta always remember to keep some of the cooking water as you might need it. When you mix the spaghetti with the turnip greens condiment, if you think it misses some creaminess, just add a couple of spoons of the cooking water and keep mixing.

  9. Now sprinkle some grated Pecorino cheese, serve and enjoy!

Buon appetito!


So, what exactly are turnip greens?

Turnip greens or Turnip tops are the top green leaves and florets of turnips. They are part of the same family of cabbages and kale, the so-called Brassica or Mustard family. Like mustard, they have a peppery taste, so they work perfectly when sautéed as in this pasta dish recipe.

In southern Italy they are called "Cime di rapa" and they are a staple vegetable through the whole winter season. In Puglia region a very popular dish is "Orecchiette con le cime di rapa": it is basically the same recipe above but using orecchiette (a type of pasta shaped like a small ear - "orecchia" in Italian) instead of spaghetti.

Turnip greens, beside being very tasty, are also very good for you. They are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, and manganese, an essential mineral that our body needs in small quantities but which is fundamental to the nervous system’s functioning.


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