The Leafy, Vitamin-Packed Green You've Never Eaten

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Step aside sweet potatoes, it's time to show their leafy greens a little love. Sweet potato leaves are an excellent source of antioxidative polyphenols, but that doesn't change the fact that if you're anything like us, you may be a bit clueless with how to approach prepping them.

Available at farmer's markets and natural grocers, sweet potato green tops cook down a lot (think of spinach), so be sure to load up on a big bunch if you plan on cooking them. Chef Olivia Roszkowski, instructor at The Natural Gourmet Institute, was kind enough to take us out of our leafy green oblivion and share with us some tips and a swoon-worthy recipe for working with this nutritious (yes, beta-carotene, calcium, iron and zinc, we're looking at you!) veggie.

Lower in oxalic acid than its green counterpart, spinach, you can use them cooked or raw in a variety of versatile preparations (bonus: they're high in Vitamin K, Vitamin B, and a good source of Vitamin A and Vitamin E to boot). This creative sweet potato greens pesto complements the hearty wheat berry salad perfectly, but feel free to slather any leftover on toast for breakfast or drizzle over pasta.

Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Caramelized Shallots & Sweet Potato Greens Pesto

Ingredients

For pesto:
¼ pound sweet potato greens, reserving few leaves for garnish
1 ounce basil, destemmed
3 tablespoons sea salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon miso
¼ cup parmesan, grated
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup olive oil

For salad:
1 cup wheat berries, soaked
3 shallots, peeled and quartered lengthwise
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

  1. For pesto: Bring a medium pot filled halfway with water up to a boil. Add the sweet potato greens, basil, and sea salt and blanche for 1 minute, or until greens are limp and vibrant green. Cool in ice bath, or under cold running water. Squeeze dry, and chop roughly. Add to a food processor along with garlic, miso, parmesan, lemon juice, and olive oil. Pulse until smooth.
  2. For salad: Cover wheat berries with cold water, and cook at a simmer for 30minutes, or until tender. In the meantime, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Toss sweet potatoes and shallots with olive oil and salt. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until tender and caramelized.
  3. Toss wheat berries with desired amount of pesto, and half of roasted vegetables. Serve with remainder of vegetables, a dollop of pesto, and reserved leaves for garnish.

And if you're not feeling like mise-en-place-ing a whole meal? Chef Olivia offers some fast methods to get sweet potato greens from root to roof of your mouth:

  • Use the smaller leaves for a pretty garnish
  • Tender and mild tasting, toss with oil and vinegar for a quick salad
  • Blanche extra greens, chop and freeze for use in a pesto, chimichurri, or infused oil
  • Sauté with garlic and red chili flakes, and top with a fried egg for a quick meal
  • Use sweet potato greens as a swap in recipes that call for spinach (this works in recipes for everything from, creamy dips and pasta to soup and salad)

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Image Credit: Getty Images

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