The Greatest Green You’ve Never Eaten: Sweet Potato Leaves

I’m always looking for new ways to use my garden. After years of growing sweet potatoes I came across a recipe that called for the leaves. Sweet potato leaves are edible? Yes. Yes, they are.

The sweet potatoes slips I got this year were supposed to be a bush variety. While they haven’t thrown vines out of the sides of my beds as badly as they usually do: they certainly still vine, like a regular old sweet potato variety. These vines have taken over the beds they’re in. I have had to cut them back so that some of my other plants have access to the sun. But, what in the heck am I going to do with all of the leaves I cut?I roughly cut the leaves with kitchen shears.
This is where reading a lot of gardening blogs comes in handy! Sweet potato leaves can be used like chard or spinach, which is a totally new concept for me. Unlike a lot of semi edible greens that you can get from other vegetables: these are not full of toxins that need to be cooked out. These are also edible raw (I suggest roughly chopping and then crushing the leaves by hand in a zip lock bag with lemon juice, olive oil and parmesan cheese, if you want to go the fresh route.)I am subbing my sweet potato leaves in a spinach recipe. And no, these don’t taste how lawn mower clippings smell (like some uncommon greens do.) These are smooth and buttery with a fantastic flavor. The stems are edible too. If you’d like to add them: saute them before wilting the leaves.

This is the awesome part of growing your own food: you can eat a lot of different, very unique, greens that you’d never find in the store! It’s an unusual question that only gardeners tend to need an answer for. So this is how we cooked our sweet potato greens and I wouldn’t change a thing:

Garlic-Lemon Sweet Potato Greens

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Sweet potato leaves wilt quickly. If you want to bring these in early: make sure you place the stems in water, like you would a cut flower.

Ingredients

6 Cups Sweet Potato Leaves, roughly chopped
2 Tbsps Butter
2 Tbsps Olive Oil
2 Tbsps Lemon Juice
1/4 Cup Shredded Parmesan
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions


1. Heat oil on medium-low and add garlic
2. Heat until fragrant
3. Add lemon juice and sweet potato leaves
4. Cook until just wilted and still bright green
5. Plate and add parmesan
6. Serve warm

I hope you have a chance to try sweet potato leaves. I am now trying to figure out exactly how many of these leaves I can harvest before I affect the tubers! These leaves have had zero pest and disease issues, unlike my Swiss Chard, that the snails and caterpillars have been enjoying! Let me know know what you think of this unusual green!

 

9 Comments Add yours

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Sweet ‘potato’ greens got my attention. I think of it as the same family as common potato, which has toxic foliage.

    1. The sweet potatoes that we eat in the states (Ipomoea batatas) are in the morning glory/bind weed family. Yes, I always assumed that they were toxic too, like potatoes/tomatoes (plants in the nightshade family.) I was surprised that this is a common dish in other countries, especially in Africa where the population needs extra calories outside of the time of the tuber harvest. I was even more surprised that they taste really good. Better than spinach (to me.) I really dislike cooked kale and that’s what I assumed I was going to find it similar (I know brassica, not related, but that’s what I had in my minds eye), but it’s not bitter, not strong. It’s very mild. I’m happy to have discovered it! It’s always nice to hear from you, how are the fires? I’m hoping they spared your home.

      1. tonytomeo says:

        My home is fine, although the garden has dried out with no one there to water it. Sadly, hundred of homes nearby burned. So many people live in the region now.

  2. Amy Rich says:

    I really need to try this! Thanks for the tip. I had a few too many sweet potato slips, but I planted them anyway and now I have a monster quantity of sweet potato vines growing outside of my raised bed. This is a way to still eat them!

  3. Amy Rich says:

    I need to try this! I had too many sweet potato slips this spring, but I planted them anyway and now I have a monstrous sweet potato bed that’s completely overflowing the space I’ve allotted to it. I definitely have a few extra leaves!

    1. Yes, it’s a great way to use plants in multiple ways. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did! Thanks for coming by and commenting! I appreciate the visit.

  4. Geri Lawhon says:

    You are right, I have never eaten sweet potatoes leaves, but I guess they deserve a try. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by them. I used some in my spring pea soup last night and other than turning the soup a darker green than usual, they blended well with the other flavors. I’m really glad I found out that they’re edible. I’ve used them frequently ever since.

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