With names like tatsoi and komatsuna, the Asian greens of fall farmers markets may look and sound exotic, but they’re actually close cousins to the turnip greens many of us grew up with. The plant species Brassica rapa, also known as field mustard, includes turnips as well as napa cabbage, bok choy, mizuna, komatsuna, tatsoi, Tokyo bekana, and hon tsai tai. Justin Aiello of Skylight Farm in Douglasville grows them all. “In the fall and spring, I get a little Asian green crazy,” he says.
Although these greens share a similar flavor base with cabbage and collards, they have their own varying degrees of mustardy heat. Many are also less fibrous and take better to quick tosses in a hot pan, or even to grilling. Through Skylight Farm’s community-supported agriculture program and his Saturday morning stall at the Green Market at Piedmont Park, Aiello says he’s won over quite a few converts, who can use the leafy greens in salads, stir-fries, and soups. “Once you get people familiar with it, they get a little hooked.”
This article originally appeared in our September 2014 issue.