Garlic Sauteed Turnip Greens (grelos)

20 minutes



Today I will bring you a very usual Portuguese side dish – turnip greens sauteed with garlic. It is something I always remember enjoying and started doing more often when trying to lose weight because it was very filling.

A sort of greens

The vegetable I’m using is called “grelos de nabo” in Portuguese. It is a dark green leafy vegetable with florets on the top.To make this recipe, you can substitute with any other green leafy vegetable, I do it myself when these ones are not available.

Preparing the turnip greens

You will want to, first, remove any yellow or less fresh leaves that it might have. After that, you will want to reduce the stalks. I say reduce because you can keep some depending on your taste. I personally do not like to eat the stalks, so I try to remove most of it, with exception of the thinner ones.

For example, I remove at least some parts of the leaf’s stalk, by pulling the leaf:


But sometimes I might leave some on the top, by removing the small florets you can see in this picture:


turnip greens bits


It is a matter of taste, and of how fibrous the vegetable you are using is. You will not want to have the bottom stalk because you would probably feel the fibres even after cooking.

Avoid bitter in the turnip greens

There are a lot of tips for this, but in my opinion the best option is to bleach the vegetables before any other step. Basically, you must cook them for a bit in boiling water. The downside is that the vegetables will lose some of the nutrients that will be released into the water. You can always save it and use it for a soup (I say this, and I believe I should do it, but I never did it – yet). Boil them the minimum possible for your taste to avoid losing more nutrients – here is where I make a “mistake” again, because I like them soft.

After that you can sauté them in a pan with some olive oil. I usually add some garlic before and brown it a bit to release the flavour into the oil. In terms of seasoning you can keep it simple. My “standard” is a bay leaf, salt and pepper (sometimes also chili powder). A final note: adding enough salt also helps with the bitterness. I’ve hear lemon juice is also something some people add, but I never do it.

Making vegetables tasty – a side note

For me, it is more important to make the vegetables tasty than to focus on cooking them to “optimal nutrient content”. I would probably not eat them if I didn’t like the taste or consistency. So, I chose to cook them a bit more and remove the parts I do not like. This way, instead of not eating, I will eat more and have a better relationship with vegetables overall.

Taste is especially important to me, because I love to eat. It was even more important when dieting because I was already eating less, so at least what I ate needed to be good. I think you should consider this in your own diet plan and meals. If what you are deciding to eat is something you do not enjoy, I can almost ensure you will not follow it for a long time. You might have the willpower to do it for some time, but eventually it will not be sustainable. It is much easier in the long term if you make changes you enjoy and add things you like to eat.

A great side dish – or the star of the meal

For me, this is the ultimate vegetables side dish – because it feels incredible “healthy”! Dark green vegetables have that effect on me. But also, because it makes me feel full for quite some time, making it one of my best allies when dieting. Plus, it goes well both with fish and with meat.

A good alternative is also to make it the focus of the meal. I like serving it only with some sunny side up eggs. The I usually break the eggs and mix it all – just how you would do to in the Spanish huevos rotos, releasing all that yolk into the pan:

turnip greens with eggs


turnip greens with eggs

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Adjust Servings
Turnip greens
Olive oil
Bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
Chilli powder (optional)



Prepare the vegetables

Heat the water as you prepare the vegetables to your taste. Remove any yellow leaf and remove the necessary stalks (if you jumped to the recipe you have some notes on this above).
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Cook the vegetables

Add the vegetables to the hot water and let them boil a bit (how much is a matter of taste).
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Heat the oil and the garlic

While the vegetables cook, cut the garlic and add it to the pan with some olive oil and a bay leaf. Let the garlic cook for a bit.
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Drain the vegetables

Drain the vegetables well and add them to the pan. I usually cut them roughly before, but it is not a necessary step.
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Sauté the vegetables

Sauté for a few minutes (how much depends on how cooked they are from the first step and the type of vegetables you are using). During this step you should add your seasonings. I usually add salt, pepper and sometimes chilli powder.
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You can serve this as a side dish or even as a main dish with some eggs. Enjoy!
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