Riso Pilaff (Italian Braised Rice)

Below are many rich details concerning the history of rice, along with the final recipe in my Italian dinner Riso Pilaff.

Rice Domestication Dated as Early as 5000 BC

Though the date of rice domestication remains doubtful, it is thought that wet-field cultivation began in the river valleys of south China-an independent country at the time-about 5000 BC, but most dates concerning this, in China, as in India and southeast Asia, are closer to 3000 BC.  1

Rice Not a Basic Grain in Early North China

In 3000 BC, the basic grain in north China was not rice, but millet, a dry land crop.  It, however, is common today to think that rice was a main food in all of China, almost to the exclusion of anything else.  This is partly due to a Victorian misapprehension.  2

China kept itself at arms-length from the rest of the world, until the mid-nineteenth century; one result of its exclusivity was that foreigner traders, confined to the southern port of Canton (now Guangzhou), falsely believed that Cantonese food, which was based on the wet-farmed rice of the early south China, was representative of China as a whole.  This Victorian misconception was later reinforced by Cantonese emigrants taking their rice dishes to Britain and America; this resulted in Chinese and Cantonese cooking to be thought of as virtually synonymous, during the early days of our understanding of Chinese food in the West.  3

In The Rituals of Dinner, Margret Visser states that the staple grain in China was originally millet, which was eaten with a spoon.  Chopsticks seemed to evolve in the East specifically for the use of rice, with Chinese rice being moist, not loose and dry like that of Indians, Arabs, and Africans, who prefer eating it with their hands.  4

The Origins of Rice

Likewise, there is also uncertainty about its exact origins. The wild plant is found over a huge area of land, from the Gangetic plain of India across Upper Burma, then stretching to north Thailand and Laos, and to North Vietnam and into southern China.  5

It is believed that it could have been domesticated almost anywhere, especially since it lends itself to different methods of cultivation.  Records show that early users were ingeniously growing it in superficially unlikely conditions.  We can assume that rice was a late-starter, due to the known dates, in relation to the domestication of other grains; this indicates that it could have been domesticated independently in several places.  6

Song Times in China (960-1279 AD)

By Song times, most of the Chinese population were relying on bowls of rice and bean curd soup, which had replaced soy beans and water.  These rice bowls and bean curd soup were simple foundations, on which the common extras were added, as availability decreed.  These extras were spring onions, bamboo shoots and beans, with soy sauce, sweet-sour plums or fermented black beans, which added savor; pork, chicken, and fish were occasional luxuries.  7

Marco Pollo saw China before the glory of the Song had time to fade; its capital Hangzhou appeared to him to be like a Chinese Venice.  Ships brought spices from the Indies and took away silks for the Levant, while Arabs, Persians, and Christians haggled over the deals being made with paper money, which was unknown to Marco.  Admits all this, specially selected varieties of rice were being imported daily and sold to the rich.  Pink rice, white rice, yellow rice, mature rice and winter rice were among these varieties-each with unique characteristics and some with an almost flower-like fragrance.  8

The Presence of Rice in India

From about 2000 BC forward, rice was being cultivated in India, beginning in the Ganges Delta, in the northeastern Bengal region of the Indian subcontinent.  On plains with natural or artificial irrigation, it was a staple, in place of millet in other locations without irrigation.  9

During the first millennium AD, rice, vegetables and fish came to form the bases of south Indian cooking; these were cooked with an abundance of spices.  On the Malabar and Coromandel-southwestern and southeastern-coasts, Indian food was subjected to many outside influences, through trading with both the Arab world and China-there was much trade in spices, both through exports and imports.  10.

Nevertheless, the effects of foreign contact were more profound in the north-west of the country.  Over a period of 2000 years, there had been a succession of infiltrations and invasions, through  the passes of the Hindu Kush, bringing Aryian, Persian, Greek, and Central Asian ideas, attitudes and techniques.  All this became woven into the culture of the area of the former Indus Valley civilization.  Along with these foreign influences-either nomadic or highly civilized-there also was fertile land; these two features caused meat to be consumed here more than anywhere else in India.  11

What took place in north-west India varied greatly from its heartland. where the very poor probably ate stale, boiled rice with half-cooked gourds or other vegetables.  There may have been a grain porridge mixed with mustard stalk, and perhaps they drank rice-boiling water left to ferment-this unidentified alkaline liquid reputedly tasted like water from a salt mine.  12

In the heartland, the less-poor began meals with one or two pieces of ginger and salt; then, there would be boiled rice and bean soup, this with a hot butter sauce.  Small cakes with fruit and more butter followed; next they chewed on a piece of sugarcane, finishing everything off by chewing spices, for digestive purposes and to sweeten the breath.  Their drinks varied from water to whey or buttermilk or gruel.  13

The rich here followed this same basic pattern in their meals, but with additions and finer quality, such as shining white rice and rich, golden broths.  In the southern heartland, curds and spicy meat sauces were used instead of ghi, and drinking water was perfumed with camphor from Borneo; they had mango syrup and lime juice for drinks as well.  In their highly varied diet, these Indians made use of dairy, which the Chinese generally ignored, and of fruit, which the Europeans were intractably suspicious.  14

As a rule, it, however, isn’t really possible to talk of ‘Indian food’ as a whole, for there is so great a diversity in its regional foods.

As an aside: Roman traders brought back rice from India to ancient Rome, at the time of Christ, before the fall of the Western Roman Empire-which happened at the hand of Germanic leader Odoacer, in 476 AD.  Romans, however, used rice in their cooking only as a starch, for thickening sauces and such.  15

The Arabs Introduced Rice to Europe

Under the banner of Islam, the Arabs rose up out of the desert and conquered the Persian Empire, during the Tang period in China (618-907 AD) and while the Rashtrakuta dynasty was ruling in India (between the 6th and 10th centuries).  16

During the medieval period, rice became fairly common in Europe, as the Arabs had brought it from Asia to Europe via Persia, where they had learned to grow and cook it.  Rice was first grown in large quantities, by the Moors, in 8th century Spain; somewhat later they brought it to Sicily.  Still later in the 15th century, northern Italians first produced rice in the Po River valley and the Lombardy plain-the home of risotto.  17

Europeans Brought Rice to the Americas

In the 1500’s and 1600’s, the Spanish and Portuguese introduced rice throughout the Americas, with South Carolina being the home of the first commercial American planting, in 1685.  Here the rice-growing expertise of the native African-Americans was most valuable.  (Presently, most of America’s rice comes from the lower Mississippi region, Arkansas, Texas, and California.)  18

Indeed, Europeans introduced numerous things to the Americas, though that which was imported by them was less than what was exported.  As mentioned, rice was among the treasures they brought.  Some other important commodities were vegetable seeds, wheat, chickpeas, sugarcane, bananas, citrus fruits, yams, cowpeas, coconuts, breadfruit, and coffee.  In addition, dairy products and beef  arrived, when Columbia’s second governor introduced the first cows there.  19

Starting in the 15th century, the Americas, however, provided Europe with far more, adding up to a formidable list with such things as: the potato, tomato, maize, avocados, pineapples, haricot, kidney, and butter beans, Lima beans, scarlet runners, ‘French’ beans, chocolate, peanuts, vanilla, red peppers and green peppers, tapioca, chewing gum, and quinine-not to mention gold, silver, tobacco and rubber.  20

Lesson Applied

For a long time, rice has been a world-wide commodity.  It is a principal food for about half of the world; while in countries such as Bangladesh and Cambodia, it provides nearly three-quarters of the daily energy intake.  21

As we can see, rice is an essential world staple.  Likewise, the Word of God is our necessary food; the Bible proclaims that it is more necessary than food itself!  (See Job 23:12.)  It often refers to the Word as the bread of life, for it feeds our bodies, minds, and souls, in ways beyond our knowledge.

The word is Jesus himself; the apostle John writes:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.”  John 1:1, 14, King James Version.

The Word, which is Jesus, provides us with solutions; it is a most practical tool.  As it is written, when trouble comes, the Holy Spirit will recall to our remembrance what Jesus has said; in this way, we can resolve situations in our lives and nations.

The living Word nourishes us, just like rice does, only better.  A steady diet of the Word brings abundant life and more abundant life, when we apply his blood to our sins as needed (see John 10:10 and Romans 5:9).

Please enjoy this memorable, Italian rice pilaf recipe, given below.

References:

  1. Reay Tannahill, Food in History (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1968, 1973), p. 40.
  2. Ibid., pp. 39, 40.
  3. Ibid., p. 40.
  4. Margret Visser, The Rituals of Dinner (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991), p. 179.
  5. Reay Tannahill, Food in History (New York, Three Rivers Press, 1968, 1973), p. 40.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid., p. 135.
  8. Ibid., p. 137.
  9. Ibid., p. 113.
  10. Ibid., p. 114.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ibid., p. 141.
  15. Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa, A Taste of Ancient Rome (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), p. 12.
  16. Reay Tannahil, Food in History (New York, Three Rivers Press, 1968, 1973), p. 141.
  17. Harold McGee, On Food in History (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 472.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Reay Tannahill, (New York: Three River Press, 1973, 1988), 114, 115.
  20. Ibid., p.220.
  21. Harold McGee, On Food in History (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 472.

Riso Pilaf  Yields: 6-8 servings.  Active prep time: 20 min/ Braising time: 25-40 min.  (Inspired by a recipe in a cook book put out by the Denver Art Museum in the 1980’s.)

1 qt chicken broth  (Organic, free range broth is available reasonably at Trader Joe’s.)

1 small bay leaf

1 clove garlic, peeled

Scant 1/8 tsp loose saffron threads, crumbled  (Trader’s carries an inexpensive Spanish saffron.)

1 tsp salt, or to taste  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is important for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95 for 5 lbs.)

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 med yellow onion, chopped small

6 tbsp butter

1 1/3 c rice

1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese

  1. sweating onions

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the broth with the bay leave, whole garlic clove, crumbled saffron, salt, and pepper.
  3. Over medium heat, sweat-cook until translucent-the chopped onion in 3 tbsp of butter, in a casserole (a 3-quart, stove top/ovenproof pan with a lid). See photo.
  4. cooking rice grains until opaque

    Stir in rice, coating grains well with the fat; continue to cook until rice turns opaque, stirring constantly; see photo.

  5. Stir hot broth into opaque rice. Bring to a boil and cook this mixture for 5 minutes, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Fit heavy foil over pan; then, cover tightly with lid.  See photo below.
  6. pan covered with heavy foil

    Bake in a preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until moisture is absorbed.

  7. When finished, fluff rice with a fork, stirring in Parmesan cheese and remaining 3 tbsp of butter; see photo of finished product at top of entry.
  8. Note: this may be made ahead of time, by braising it for about 35-40 minutes, or until there is about an inch of liquid left in the bottom of the pan.  Remove from oven and set aside; then, 45 minutes before serving, preheat oven to 250 degrees and place the casserole in oven, until rice is warmed.  It is even possible that the rice may be completely cooked-except the final addition of butter and cheese-the day before and stored in another saucepan, if casserole is needed for another recipe.  Be sure to remove rice from refrigerator in the morning; then, heat this room temperature rice over medium heat on stove top, adding about an inch of water to the bottom of saucepan.  When hot, stir in last 3 tbsp of butter and cheese and serve.

Ropa Vieja (Omelette)

ropa vieja (omelette)

Here we examine the historical and botanical make-up of tomatoes, the importance of Africans in the forming of southern cuisine, and details about the publication of cook books in the American south.

America’s Food Heritage

Our typical American cuisine was inspired by the familiar recipes brought over by English, French, Spanish, and Dutch settlers, as well as those of Scotch-Irish and German colonists, who followed these early immigrants; all of this European influence merged with the available foods of the Native Americans present on this continent.  1

Southern Cuisine Developed by Africans

African slaves played a broad part in fashioning our distinctive southern cookery.  The mistresses of these slaves initially taught them-our people-receipts recalled from these mistresses’ individual heritages, as listed above; then, prized dishes were developed, with the Africans’ natural appreciation of and aptitude for cooking.  These foods were used in the strong social competition among the plantations.  Such delicacies, which in large part formed this region’s cuisine, were not initially compiled in books for the public, but rather closely safeguarded within each family, due to the rivalry among these established settlements.  Thus, there were no Southern cook books until the first quarter of the 19th century; a few recipes from this geographic area were preserved, however, in some American cook books, mostly those published in and around Philadelphia.  2

Mrs. Mary Randolph’s The Virginia Housewife, printed in 1824, in Washington D.C., is part of the advent of cook books specializing in foods from the South.  It also includes some Northern recipes, as well as a few Spanish dishes, of which our Ropa Vieja omelette is one.  This promising recipe boasts of only five ingredients, one of which is the garden tomato, and just a few succinct instructions; its simplicity makes it exceptional.  3

Botanical Make-up of Tomatoes Produces a Powerful Food

In On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee explains why this sweet-tart, botanical fruit tomato, which is used as a vegetable, has such great appeal.  He attributes this attractiveness to the unique flavor brought about by its low sugar content-3%; other great features are its large amount of savory glutamic acid-as much as 0.3% of its weight-and its ample quantities of aromatic sulfur compounds.  These two latter ingredients, present in ripe tomatoes, predispose them to complement the flavor of meats.  This is because these two substances exist more commonly in animal flesh than fruits; thus, their rich presence in tomatoes allows for added taste to meat dishes.  Savory glutamic acid and sulfur aromas likewise bring out great depth and complexity in sauces and other food combinations; therefore, this particular produce can even replace meat in flavoring vegan dishes.  4

American Origins of Tomatoes and their Slow Acceptance in Europe

Tomatoes originated in the west coast deserts of South America.  Extensive varieties existed in Mexico, by the time Hernando Cortez and his 400 Spaniards discovered this land in 1519.  The tomato was incorporated in American (and later European) cookery in various ways.  At the time of Cortez’ arrival, Mexicans used thin shavings of this green, unripe fruit in many dishes; they also mixed ripe tomatoes with chillis in a sauce to top cooked beans.  Subsequently, the Spaniards in Europe readily adopted this fruit in their cuisine.  5

When Francisco Pizarro began his bloody attacks in Peru in 1532, this South American land, with all its royal Incan wealth, was eating mostly a vegetarian diet of maize, potatoes (including sweet and manioc potatoes), squash, beans, peanuts, avocados, chillis, and our beloved tomato.  6

Some time later, the Italians were adding it to broths and soups, as noted by the Quaker merchant Peter Collinson in 1742.  Tomato sauce for pasta followed several decades hence.  7

Britain lagged behind Italy, in accepting this item, due to their long-held mistaken viewpoint, which had originated on the Continent, connecting it with a deadly nightingshade, being it was of this same family.   Not until the 20th century did the English acquired a taste for tomatoes, particularly canned tomato soup.  8

Popularity of Tomatoes Grew Slowly in the United States

North America was almost equally slow in receiving this fruit, probably due in part to these same European misconceptions; they considered it to be lacking in nourishment and substance, as well as a cause for gout.  9

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the U.S began what was to become a wide acceptance of tomatoes, primarily due to the strong influence from the great Italian immigration then.   Nevertheless, their first appearance here was when Thomas President Thomas Jefferson brought back seedlings from a diplomatic trip to Paris.  There the Parisians had just accepted this “love apple”, believed to be an aphrodisiac; their acceptance directly resulted from the effect Italian cooking had on French troops during the French Revolution at the end of the 18th century (see Spicy Sausages with Tomatoes & Turnips).

It is interesting to note that our third president had an extensive garden of 170 varieties of fruits and 330 varieties of vegetables and herbs; his grand kitchen utilized most of this produce, even producing ketchup for our epicurean leader, who primarily chose a vegetarian diet.  Ketchup at this time, however, was a vinegar-based condiment made from such ingredients as walnuts and mushrooms, not tomatoes.  10

Be sure to access my other tomato recipes: Parmesan Dover Sole and Rosemary Eggs.

References:

  1. Esther B. Aresty, The Delectable Past (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964), p. 181.
  2. Ibid., pp. 182, 183, 193.
  3. Ibid., p. 193.
  4. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), pp. 329, 330.
  5. On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), Reay Tannahill, Food in History (New York: The Three Rivers Press, 1988, 1973), p. 206.
  6. Ibid., p. 214.
  7. Ibid., p. 207.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid.
  10. www.monticello.org/site/house-and-gardens/historic-gardens

ingredients for ropa vieja

Ropa Vieja (Omelette)  Yields: 2 servings.  Total prep time: 25 min.  Adapted from an 1824 southern recipe found in Esther B. Aresty’s The Delectable Past (New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1964).

2 lg firm ripe tomatoes, cut in eighths, seeds and juice removed

2/3 c shredded leftover chicken, ham, or beef

4 lg eggs, beaten lightly  (May use 3 duck eggs, which are bigger than chicken eggs; for info on duck and chicken eggs, see Rosemary Eggs.)

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp chopped parsley, optional

Salt, to taste  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco.)

Fresh ground pepper, to taste

  1. cooked tomatoes

    Spray the optional parsley with a safe, inexpensive, effective produce spray (mix 97% distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide); let sit 3 minutes: then, rinse well and chop fine.

  2. Cut the tomatoes in eighths, gently scoop out liquid and seeds with a spoon (it not necessary to peel the tomatoes), place in a bowl.
  3. Shred and measure the meat, set aside.
  4. Beat the eggs, only until whites and yolks are lightly blended.
  5. Over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a non-stick skillet; mix in meat, heating for one minute.  Add tomatoes and cook for six minutes, or until mixture is hot and tomatoes are somewhat softened, stirring occasionally (see above photo).
  6. Reduce heat to med/low; sprinkle parsley over cooked tomatoes and meat; pour beaten eggs over this mixture, quickly distributing the meat and tomatoes evenly in eggs.
  7. finished product

    Salt and pepper generously before covering; cover and cook slowly, until eggs are set on top (see photo).

  8. When done, you may remove any loose pieces of skin from tomatoes that appear on top of omelette; fold it over; cut in half to serve two people.

Spicy Sausage with Tomatoes and Turnips

spicy sausage with tomatoes and turnips

Nothing pleases the palate as much as tomatoes fresh from the garden; read below details concerning how they traveled from America to Europe to the whole world; then, experience this great tomato recipe.

How I love this time of year, as it explodes with their bounty.  Nevertheless, at times the question is what to do with them all.  When faced with this dilemma recently, I mixed this fruit with turnips and my favorite Aidells Spicy Mango with Jalapeno Chicken Sausages, both of which I had on hand; thus, this relatively quick and easy recipe evolved.  Enjoy.  (For another delicious Aidells sausage recipe, see Sausage with Zucchini and Eggplant .)

Where Tomatoes Originated

We think Italian cuisine, when tomatoes are mentioned, as we readily do with references to sweet and hot peppers, eggplant, potatoes, turkeys, and corn (in particular polenta).  None of these foods, however, were present as part of this country’s heritage, until after the discovery of America.  1

The tomato, Lycopersicon esculentum, along with its relatives the potato, chilli, and tobacco, are part of the nighingshade family; tomatoes were domesticated first in Mexico, long before Christopher Columbus’ arrival here.  2

Cortez Brought Tomatoes Back To Spain

In 1519, twenty-seven years after Columbus’ first voyage, this fruit was officially discovered in Mayan towns by Spanish adventurer Hernando Cortez.  In 1527, conquistadors brought it back to Spain, along with the avocado and papaya.  3

Tomatoes Spread Throughout Europe

Nearly three decades hence, in 1554, an Italian chronicle listed the first identifiable description of this yellow cherry tomato as pomo d’oro (golden apple).  By the end of the 16th century, both red and yellow tomatoes were present in European gardens, but only as exotic ornamental plants.  There was a long period in which great suspicion was attached to them throughout this continent, due to their close resemblance to a deadly nightingshade.  Circumstances of the French Revolution, at the end of the 18th century, however, established them as an acceptable food.  4

Italy Leads The Way In Eating Tomatoes

Outside of Mexico, Italy was first to heartily incorporate this fruit in its food preparation; inadvertently it became a leader in this adaptation.  The story unfolds with the French region Provence, whose cuisine was closely related to its Italian neighbor; these men from Provence formed the Marseillaise legion during the French Revolution.  Being richly exposed to Italian cooking, these soldiers had adopted the Italian “love apple”, as it was called, for it was considered an aphrodisiac.  In turn, this Marseillaise legion introduced this treasure to the Parisian troops, who took it back to their great city; thus, skepticism concerning tomatoes ceased in Paris.  Acceptance followed throughout Europe and subsequently the whole world.  5

The week after next, I will post a Spanish recipe Ropa Vieja, from a 19th century American cook book, with more information on the history of tomatoes.  This is an omelette using our prized fruit and leftover meat; it doesn’t get any simpler, but oh so taste-provoking!

References:

  1. Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa, A Taste of Ancient Rome (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1994), p. 11.
  2. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p.329.
  3. James Trager, The Food Chronology (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1995), pp. 86, 88, 96, 97.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Esther B. Aresty, The Delectable Past (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964), pp. 129-130.

Spicy Sausage with Tomatoes and Turnips  Yields 4-6 servings.  Total prep time: 1 hr.  Note: leftovers taste even better, as flavors meld.

5 1/2 tsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best; olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

1 medium yellow onion, cut in even 1/8″ slices

12 oz Aidells Spicy Mango with Jalapeno Chicken Sausages  (May use any hot sausage of your choice, though this particular Aidells sausage is ideal; available at many supermarkets, including our local Winco and Fred Meyer-Kroger-stores.)

preparing turnips

1 lb turnips, cut in small 1/2″ dice

1 1/4 lb fresh tomatoes, chopped

3/4 tsp dried oregano  (Trader Joe’s has an excellent organic dried oregano for $1.99!)

1 tsp dried basil  (Also available reasonably at Trader’s.)

1 tsp salt  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95 for 5 lbs.)

1 tsp fresh ground pepper

cooking turnips

Avocado slices  (These are high in potassium and other powerful nutrients.)

  1. Spay vegetables with an effective, inexpensive spray (combine 97% distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide); let rest for 3 minutes; rinse really well.
  2. To caramelize onions, melt 1/2 tsp oil in a sauté pan over medium heat; when a piece of onion sizzles in pan, lower heat to med/low; add rest of onions (do not crowd or they will sweat, taking much longer to caramelize). Stir every several minutes, until they began to change color; then, stir every minute, until dark brown; set aside.  Watch carefully while proceeding to next steps.
  3. In another frying pan, heat 2 tsp oil over medium heat; when small piece of sausage sizzles in pan, add the rest; cook quickly until browned, watching closely so as not to burn; place in a bowl, carefully saving juices in pan.
  4. Deglaze hot pan with 2 or more tablespoons of water (scrape fond, cooked-on juices, off bottom); set pan aside.
  5. Peel turnips, dice in small 1/2″ cubes, place in a large bowl, see photo in list of ingredients.
  6. Over medium heat, heat 1 tbsp more of oil in the above pan with juices. When a piece of turnip sizzles, stir in the rest, coating well with oils.  Cook covered until soft, about 10 minutes; stir every few minutes, deglazing pan each time you stir, by adding 2-4 tbsp of water; this additional water will steam the turnips; see above photo.  (Be sure to cover while cooking.)
  7. cooking tomatoes

    Meanwhile chop tomatoes; set aside in a bowl.

  8. Mix tomatoes into soft turnips; sauté uncovered, over medium heat, until they are cooked down-about 15 minutes-at which time a chunky sauce will be formed (see photo). When tomatoes initially begin cooking, stir in oregano, basil, salt, and pepper.  Be sure to cook this uncovered.
  9. Mix in sausage and onions after a somewhat-thick sauce has formed, having chunks of tomato in it; adjust seasonings (see photo).
  10. finished product

    Serve topped with avocado slices, for added health benefits.