Friday, October 31, 2014

First Taste - Sweet Potato Greens!

Sweet potato leaves make one heck of a good side dish.
They're served here with purple mustard greens (self-sown fall crop -- several generations removed from seeds I sowed back in spring 2012!) and sliced green pepper.
A couple of months ago, I let some sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) sit too long in the closet. And they sprouted vines.

Hm. What to do? I could throw them out or plant them in the garden.

So I dug some shallow holes in the sun-baked clay soil, dropped in the sweet potatoes, gave them a little bit of water and basically forgot about them.

Fast forward to this week. The vines were a couple of feet long and covered with healthy-looking leaves.

As University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension reminded me, sweet potato leaves are not only edible, they also may be healthful and nutritious.

(Note - Be sure you are picking SWEET potato leaves, because regular (white) potato leaves are POISONOUS! Also be sure you're picking the leaves of a sweet potato and not some other member of the Ipomoea family such as Morning Glories, as sources suggest that many other Ipomoea species contain toxic alkaloids.)

So, I strolled to the garden, picked some of the soft and tender sweet potato leaves from their vines, brought them inside, rinsed them off and tossed them in a frying pan with some freshly-picked mustard greens and some sliced green pepper.

I drizzled a tiny bit of olive oil into the pan and cooked the whole shebang over low heat for a couple of minutes.

The verdict? Delicious!

In fact, I'd say it's much better tasting than spinach with sweet undertones and none of the oxalic acid sourness you find in spinach or chard.

Here are some other blog posts about the virtues of sweet potato leaves via The Slow Cook and Show Me Oz. And here's a YouTube video showing an alternate method of preparing (blanching) sweet potato leaves.