Farmers' Market Spotlight of the Week: Sweet Potato Greens

Cooler temperatures mean that the City Hall Farmers Market is open once again and that more Houstonians will be heading out to enjoy the many other excellent farmers' markets across the city. Each week, we'll be spotlighting a produce pick from the Urban Harvest network of farmers' markets by showing you how to select it, what makes it special and what to do with it.

This week, Urban Harvest market manager Tyler Horne was excited to tell us about the sweet potato greens found at markets like the Saturday morning Eastside Farmers Market, greens which are currently being grown and sold by two local farms.

"You can find them at the market at Utility Research Garden and Gundermann Acres Farm," says Horne, who admits to being "in love" with the dark, leafy greens.

"I find the idea of eating sweet potato greens novel because I grew up -- like all good Southern boys -- eating roasted sweet potatoes drizzled with brown sugar and honey as a staple of my diet," says Horne. "I never knew you could eat the greens until I started working at the farmers' market. I chalk that up to the fact that they had never been attached the thousands of sweet potatoes I peeled as a kid."

It's finally becoming easier to find other root vegetables with the greens attached at grocery stores -- beets being a perfect example of this -- although sweet potato greens are still considerably harder to come by, which is why it's exciting to find them at the farmers market this fall.

Horne says that keeping it easy is the best way to handle the leaves: "A simple way to prepare them is to cook them like any other green: a quick saute over medium-high heat in olive oil with diced garlic and onions."

Similar to spinach, the greens will cook down considerably -- this isn't kale we're dealing with here. Unlike spinach, however, the sweet potato greens retain a pleasantly sweet, vegetal taste; there's none of what Epicurious calls "a funny, unpleasant astringent feel and taste" to these greens.

And if you want to try something really different with your sweet potato greens, check out the cooking video below: It's a recipe for Madagascarian ravimbomanga sy patsa mena, or sweet potato greens with dried shrimp.

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Katharine Shilcutt