Turnip greens and harissa
Thinking more on the dish over the last few weeks I started an adaptation that I'm pretty high on. I don't know if anyone in Tunisia does it but it's darned good I think. My thought was to stop stopping using only the bottoms to the exclusion of eating the tops. Truth is that the greens on these guys are just as delicious as the turnips. While collards collect a lot more popular exposure up here, turnip greens are great I think. I actually like them a lot more than collards or kale. Mustard greens are my usual top choice, then turnips. In Britain they call 'em turnip tops. Radish greens are great too, by the way. I still remember one woman who grew up in the rural south, whose family had a small farm and for whom turnips were a major part of their diet. She said they used to regularly eat both parts and referred to them merely as "tops" (the greens) and "bottoms" (the actual turnips).
So rather than stopping at the root, I just kept slicing all the way through the leaves. I cut the greens down to salad size (whatever that means to you) and tossed them into my mixing bowl too. Basically you end up with an entire salad of turnips and greens tossed with what, in essence, is a harissa vinaigrette. It takes all of...two minutes to do and it's incredibly good (if you like spicy food, I should say).
Mashed turnips and harissa
So from there, the transitive property took me one step further from the original dish, but with equally excellent outcomes. I really like this one a lot. Cook the turnips in some boiling, salted water 'til they're very tender. Take 'em out but hold onto the boiling water. Let the turnips drain in a colander for a few minutes--they're already prone to having a bit more water than one wants for this dish so try get rid of all the excess liquid on the outside. While they're draining, turn the heat back on under the pot you cooked them in. Chop up the turnip greens and add them to the reserved cooking water and simmer for five or so minutes 'til they're done--no need to cook the hell out of them but cooking time will of course vary depending on the toughness of the bunch you have on hand. When the greens are done, drain them and then toss them with good olive oil and some sea salt.
When the turnips have had time to drain, mash them up til they're the texture of hummus or mashed potatoes. Turnips, as I said, can have a bit more water than I'd want for this--if you see a lot of liquid drain or strain off as much of it off as you can. Then mix the mash with olive oil and salt. The Mahjoub's oil is the obvious and very good choice.
While the mash and the greens are still warm (you can rewarm them no problem if you do the first two steps ahead) toast some good bread--I'm biased towards the Sicilian Sesame Semolina but Paesano or Farm bread are great. If you like garlic, rub it with a cut clove of fresh garlic. Put on a bit of olive oil. Spread on a bunch of harissa. Spoon on the turnip mash, they lay the greens on on top of that. Add salt and pepper if you like. Eat it with your hands or a knife and fork if you're feeling more fastidious. If you're inspired lightly fry up an egg and lay that on top too. It's pretty great with the egg so I encourage you to try it that way. You won't go wrong with crescent of extra olive oil across the top too.
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