Foodies, take note: Turnip tops are the hottest new culinary trend

Orecchiette pasta with turnips greens and anchiovies (Image:Simona Flamigni/Getty)

Turnips…they’re not the sexiest of vegetables, are they? Not compared to the alluring glamour of, say, the aubergine or asparagus.

For a long time dismissed as ‘peasant food’, they’ve had to suffer the yearly indignity of seeing pumpkins, their arrogant cousins, hogging the Halloween limelight – even though Jack O’ lanterns were traditionally made with turnips.

But now, at long last, the ugly sister of the vegetable world has been given its own shot at stardom: turnip tops (i.e. the green bits) are the hottest new trend in British cuisine.

Also known by the Italian ‘cime di rapa’, which sounds a bit more glamorous, turnip greens are now being stocked by online supermarket Ocado. and similarly upscale retailers around the country, with customers willing to pay as much as £10 per kilo.

Whereas in the past, turnip greens were a niche ingredient mostly used by specialist chefs, more and more people are trying them out in their home cooking.

Turnip tops could be the next big thing (Picture: iStockphoto)

Part of the appeal of turnip tops lies in their versatility. They’re traditionally used in a range of different cuisines, including Italian, Spanish and Korean food (in which they are often fermented and served kimchi-style).

‘Turnip tops is traditional peasant food,’ celebrity chef Giorgio Locatelli tells the Mail on Sunday, ‘People in northern Italy tease those from Puglia about eating turnip greens. But they can be delicious in so many ways.’

Locatello uses turnip tops at Locanda Locatelli, his Michelin-starred restaurant in the West End, London.

‘Cime di rapa has a slightly bitter flavour, and is very easy to cook and very versatile,’ he says, ‘I don’t really know why it isn’t grown commercially here as it could be done easily.’

As well as Locatelli’s restaurant, you can find turnip tops in a number of classy restaurants across the London, such as Trullo, in Islington, where they’re served as part of a main course with Yorkshire Partridge and chicken liver crostini.

Belgravi’as Zafferano, meanwhile, serves the greens alongside halibut and fresh chilli.

If the trend continues at this pace, turnip greens will no doubt be appearing in a restaurant near you before long. If you can’t wait till then, why not try them out at home yourself?

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