Sweet potato, a plant with large starchy and sugary tuberous roots has for years been relied upon globally for survival. In Africa and some parts of the world, the shoots and leaves are consumed as vegetables. Some of the African countries that are leading in the consumption of this humble plant are Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal, and Ghana, among others.
Research has shown that sweet potato vegetable leaves are highly nutritional and even tastier as compared to kale, spinach, collard, and other greens. Besides cooking, the leaves can also be used raw in green smoothies and salad dressings. When boiled, the water can be taken as a healthy drink or preserved for slightly bitter broth.
When perfectly cooked, potato leaves can pair well with chicken, fish, pork, aromatics like ginger, onions, garlic, and savory enhancers like fish sauce.
Knowing how to prepare yours correctly is one of the great ways of enjoying this delicacy. But before we jump into our recipe, get to know some of the sweet potato facts, nutritional value, and harvesting tips.
Sweet Potato Facts
- Sweet potato is a lifesaver and a great source of nutrients in times of food insecurity
- Sweet potato is the sixth important crop globally
- Aside from human consumption, the plant is also used as animal feed
- Sweet potatoes vary in regards to skin and fresh color which ranges from white, red, purple and yellow
Sweet Potato Leaves Health Benefits
- Fresh potato leaves are rich in zeaxanthin and Lutein, which prevent eye cataracts and age-related muscular degeneration (AMD). Both Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenoids in contact lens
- Rich in Niacin which prevents heart disease and some types of cancer like breast and colon
- Reduces Vitamin A, B, C, D, E and K deficiencies
- Rich in Sodium, Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium, Manganese and Zinc minerals
- A good source of beta-carotene which has skin anti-aging properties and helps boost eyesight
How to Harvest Sweet Potato Leaves
Harvesting sweet potato leaves is not a rocket science. But before you harvest the first leaf, you ought to know which part to detach from the plant and whether the leaves are suitable for harvesting. One sure sign of determining whether your sweet potato leaves are ready for harvesting is the presence of yellow leaves.
Pay close attention to the texture of leaves by touching with your hands. If rough, leave them and pay attention to the greener and fresher ones. To save time, you don’t need to detach every single leaf you come across but rather harvest them along with the shoots.
Now that you know how to harvest the leaves let’s go straight to our recipe. One thing worth noting is that preparing sweet potato vegetable leaves is easy. And detailed below is what you need.
- 1 pound Sweet potato leaves
- Three shallots (minced)
- Three ginger slices (cut in julienne pieces)
- Four cloves of garlic (chopped)
- 2tbsp. grated turmeric root
- Pinch of sugar
- Salt to taste
- ½ tbsp. white pepper
- 4tbsp. cooking oil
- 1-2tbsp. soy sauce
- 100ml coconut cream
- 150ml water
- Trim any thick stems and wash them in a large basin. Rinse thoroughly and blanch them in a large pot for 1 minute
- Heat oil in a saucepan and add your garlic, ginger, shallots, turmeric, and white pepper. Stir for 1 minute and add your soy sauce. Continue stirring for another 1 minute
- Add your water and coconut cream and simmer it for two minutes.
- Add your blanched leaves and simmer for another 2 minutes
- Add salt and sugar and stir to incorporate them perfectly well for 1 minute
- Serve with rice along with either beef or fish
Sweet potato vegetable leaves are tasty and highly nutritious. So if you have been ignoring this amazing plant, you need to take advantage of it. The benefits are significant, and you can’t afford to ignore them. Why not try them out and leave us a comment.