One of my husband’s friends gave us some Szechuan peppercorns a while ago as a gift. I was pretty stoked to get them, but didn’t have any immediate plans for them so I stuck them in a cupboard and kind of forgot they were there for a while.
I don’t know why I remembered them all of a sudden on the weekend, but I decided to pair them up with some turnip greens that I had left over after making my slaw. Maybe I wanted to go Szechuan because I find turnip greens to be pleasantly bitter and a little bit spicy on their own, or maybe it was because I had just made another asian-inspired dish, I don’t know. But the results were delicious! And the good news is that I think this recipe would work with any kind of greens, not just turnip.
The Szechuan peppercorns really brought a nice flowery note to the dish. They don’t actually have a lot of heat themselves like black or white peppercorns do. If you’re not sure, try eating one whole, I think you will be surprised.
But back to the star of the show: Turnip greens.
One of the nice things about turnip greens is that you don’t have to remove all the stems, like you do with greens like chard and collards and kale; however I do trim away the larger stems closer to the root end if they seem tough. The parts of the stem that are still attached to the leaves are typically nice and tender. You can cook them at the same rate as the leaves, and they add a pleasant crunch to the dish.
Another nice thing about turnip greens is nutrition. Like most greens, they are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free, high in fiber, and a great source of vitamins A, C, E, folate, calcium, B6, trace minerals, and chlorophyl, to name a few.
Can you believe that some people throw these delicious and nutritious beautiful babies away?
I like to use a wok for cooking greens, but use any large pot or pan that has a lid. This recipe makes enough for two large servings, or maybe 4 smaller side servings.
- 1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
- 1 tsp chili oil or toasted sesame oil
- pinch of salt
- pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tsp canola oil
- 1 tsp crushed chile flakes (optional)
- 2 bunches turnip greens, trimmed and chopped
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Toast szechuan peppercorns in a dry wok until just fragrant. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar & pestle and grind.
To make the dressing, whisk together the ground peppercorns, chili or sesame oil, salt, cayenne (if using), rice wine vinegar, and sugar. Set aside.
Heat the canola oil in the wok until it is shimmering, and add the crushed chile flakes if using. Cook the chili flakes for about a minute. Add the turnip greens and toss to coat with the oil. Cook until they are wilted but still bright green, continuing to stir and toss them frequently. Put the lid on the pot when not stirring.
When the greens are tender and emerald colored, remove from the heat, and pour the dressing over top. Add the sesame seeds, and toss to coat. Serve hot, garnished with some extra sesame seeds if desired. Leftovers will last in the fridge for 2-3 days, and they taste good cold too.