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It has been just lovely these past few weeks. The temperatures have looked more like 90 than 100 and in August in Texas this northern girl is grateful for it. When it cools down like this and get rain, we plant and plant. Mostly it’s brassicas and roots going into the ground for the fall garden, but I like to throw in some lettuce and herbs as well.

These little guys won’t be ready for a couple of months, however, so I am turning to our favorite hot weather salad and cooking greens – sweet potato leaves!

Right now our sweet potato bed is a big ol’ tangled mess of the greenest, lushest leaves thanks to the rains we had recently. So I pick a few off of every plant to spread out the harvest. When it is cooler and wetter like this there is no detectable bitter flavor whatsoever. It just tastes, well, green and full of life.

Sweet Potato Leaf Nutrition

According to the University of Arkansas, sweet potato leaves are comparable to spinach:

“Depending on varieties and growing conditions, sweet potato leaves are comparable to spinach in nutrient content. The average mineral and vitamin content in a recently developed cultivar, Suioh, is 117 mg calcium, 1.8 mg iron, 3.5 mg carotene, 7.2 mg vitamin C, 1.6 mg vitamin E and 0.56 mg vitamin K/100 g fresh weight of leaves. Levels of iron, calcium and carotene rank among the top, as compared with other major vegetables.”

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Use of Sweet Potato Leaves

We use sweet potato leaves both in cooked dishes and raw salads, depending on their flavor

When sweet potato greens are a bit more bitter, either due to a plant stressor or due to the stage at which they are at, we like to cook with them. Cooking sweet potato leaves results in a green somewhere between cooked spinach and cooked collard greens.

When they are lush and sweet, as they are right now, I primarily use them as a salad green. They can be mixed with other greens, or used on their own as in the salad recipe below.

In either case, harvest sweet potato greens sparingly from individual plants so that the roots will continue to form. When we have a big bed such as this, I simply walk around the perimeter and snip off leaves here and there, being sure to pick from every plant so as not to stress any single plant.

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Sweet Potato Green Salad with Tomato and Onion

Ingredients

  • 6 packed cups sweet potato leaves
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup homemade vinaigrette

Directions

Chop the sweet potato leaves finely. I find kitchen shears an efficient way to do this. Combine with the tomatoes and onion and toss with homemade vinaigrette or salad dressing of choice.

Serve as a side salad or top with protein or cooked, fermented grains for a main dish.

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It was one of the last 100+ degree days before the heat broke and the rains came. When we sat around the picnic table sharing watermelon, Kidney Bean & Greens Salad, and cold goat milk, the happy faces belied the weariness of August.

Of the five Augusts I have experienced in Texas, this may be the most extraordinary. The rain and 80 or 90 degree days have given us a respite from needing to survive the everyday. Spurred on and energized, we’ve been planting fall gardens, building new chicken coops, and making a great deal of mess in the kitchen. Never knowing what Texas will bring next, we must make hay (plant seeds) while the sun shines (cools off).

Bonus Reads

Here are a few things I’ve been reading or eating…

I’m wrapping up a work project next week and maybe then will get back to sharing a bit more. Until then, don’t forget to let a little juice dribble down your chin, friends.