Kitchen Witch - The whole root and nothing but

Mashed Red-Curry Sweet Potatoes and Ad Hoc Sweet Potato Greens

I've taken all of these notes under advisement, and when time and freezer space permit, I'm a disciple of the waste-not cause. The knowledge doesn't come naturally; somebody's gotta show it to know it. Imagine my surprise when I discovered at my local farmers' market that my beloved sweet potato is not a jewel unto itself. As a root vegetable, it starts off as a little green sprout that pushes through the soil showing its pretty leaves, and those leaves aren't just for show or harvesting ease – they're mighty good eating.

Below, a duet of recipes that pays tribute to the entire sweet potato, a meal with aboveground and underground perspective. My only complaint is this: Why did it take me so long to wake up and taste the greens?

Mashed Red-Curry Sweet Potatoes

Adapted from the November 2007 issue of Martha Stewart Living

6 medium sweet potatoes (about 4 pounds)

10 ounces coconut milk (about 3/4 can)

1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste

1/4 cup good quality maple syrup (optional; if sweet potatoes are freshly and locally harvested, they are likely to be sweet from the get-go)

A few tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prick sweet potatoes all over with a fork. Place on a baking sheet and bake until soft, about 1 hour. Let cool slightly. With a spoon, scoop flesh out of skins and transfer to a bowl. Mash with a potato masher.

In a saucepan, combine coconut milk and curry paste and bring up to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes and stir, ensuring that curry paste is integrated. Add mashed sweet potatoes and 2 tablespoons of butter and salt, stirring well. Taste and add maple syrup if sweeter result is desired.

Butter small gratin dishes or a larger 6-cup baking/casserole dish. Spoon sweet-potato mixture into dish and dot with another tablespoon of butter. Place under broiler and allow to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Ad Hoc Sweet Potato Greens

Vegetable oil of choice for sauteing

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 onion, diced

1/2 chili pepper of choice, seeded and minced

1/4 pound sweet-potato greens, thoroughly rinsed, stems removed

1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add enough oil to coat surface of pan. Add garlic, onion and chili, and allow to soften, about 3-5 minutes, making sure vegetables don't burn.

Add greens, and with tongs, toss and coat well with aromatics. Allow to cook for at least 5 minutes, until greens wilt and soften. Add soy sauce just before serving. Makes 2-3 side-dish servings.

Culinary questions? Contact Kim O'Donnel at kim.odonnel@creativeloafing.com.

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