Wednesday, 23 January 2008


As I sit here eating my home-grown salad for lunch I realise that there is another interesting vegetable part on my plate that I have recently discovered . It is the sweet potato leaf. (Read the post below for the radish revolution too).

The book "Community Gardens" is responsible for teaching me this and I just happened to have a white sweet poato growing in my garden. So, in the middle of having my lunch I went and took a photo of it and this is it. (I had just eaten the last bit from my plate!)

Evidently some nationalities only eat the leaves and not the tubers at all. If Maggie has the time she might look it up and tell us more as mine was a library copy and I have returned it.

This is a great find as it has a gorgeous flavour and texture, very much like mache (or corn salad) only the leaves are much bigger and a better size for picking. It grows like a weed, spreading everywhere by runners, so there is always some to pick. My zuccinis (whose final size I always under-estimate when planting) have partly grown over the sweet poato plant but it seems very happy wandering along underneath and I think this would make the leaves less likely to be burnt by the heat. This could be good for people like Scarecrow in the mid-north who may not have much luck with lettuce when the weather is hot. This plant seems very hardy, even the bits that are in the full sun seem happy and the youngest tips start out brownish red so maybe this indicates heat tolerance.

So, I had a plate full of cos lettuce, sweet potato leaves, tiny radish leaves and another secret ingredient (read on). Great by itself but we had people to dinner last night and I poured a little tiny bit of dressing over this salad (peanut oil, verjuice and pepper) and the left-overs had kept so well that it was perfect for lunch today.

The other thing I have discovered this week is that okra is lovely thinly sliced in salad. I have the crimson ones (like those we saw in the Botanic Gardens last year!). I don't really feel that attracted to the slimey nature of okra so I tried a tiny piece raw because it looked so pretty sliced up on the chopping board. It doesn't have much flavour but is slightly crisp and provides something attractive and new in the salad bowl, especially with the crimson coloured skin. (I could only find a photo of a green one).
They are related to the hibiscus and the flowers are really stunning even if you don't eat any of it.
(Can you tell its a hottish day, Wednesday morning gardening isn't on until next week and I am rather tired after a late night and early morning? This equals freedom to blog! Three posts so far - maybe more...)


Maggie said...

Okra is great if you slice it lengthways in half, then soak it for a few minutes in some milk, then take it out & toss it in seasoned flour, then shallow fry or dry fry on each side until crisp & yummy.

Kate said...

That sounds great. I can't wait to pick some more.

Chile said...

I love eating small okra raw. I don't even slice it; just nibble on it whole.