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Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

sweet potato greens

From nettles to beet greens, amaranth to tatsoi, there are countless types of leafy greens you can buy at farmers tailgate markets that don’t generally appear at grocery stores. One variety in season right now is sweet potato greens, the abundant vines sprouting from the more commonly consumed tuber part of the plant.  

Though sweet potato greens are common in Asian or African cooking, they aren’t widely utilized in the U.S. These greens have a softer texture than collards or kale when cooked and lack the sharp flavor of spinach or Swiss chard. You can easily use them in recipes that call for spinach or other cooked greens. They are particularly delicious in the Indian dish saag paneer or palak paneer. 

Paneer is a type of fresh, non-melting cheese used in Indian dishes. You can make it yourself with milk, lemon juice, and some cheesecloth. Halloumi, often easier to find in stores, is a common substitute. But to keep things local, feta cheese makes an excellent stand-in. For one bunch of sweet potato greens, use eight ounces of feta cut into one-inch cubes. Find local feta from Spinning Spider Creamery at ASAP Farmers Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market, and River Arts District Farmers Market, or Three Graces Dairy at North Asheville Tailgate Market or West Asheville Tailgate Market

Start by trimming sweet potato leaves and smaller stems from the thicker main stem, if they are still attached. Wash and dry them. Get sweet potato greens from Lee’s One Fortune Farm at ASAP Farmers Market, Black Mountain Tailgate Market, West Asheville Tailgate Market, River Arts District Farmers Market, or East Asheville Tailgate Market. Or try this dish with other greens available from farmers right now, such as Swiss chard, kale, or cabbage.  

Heat several tablespoons of ghee over medium heat. (You can use butter or oil if you don’t have time to make ghee—or pick some up from Goddess Ghee at North Asheville Tailgate Market.) Toast two tablespoons of coriander seeds and half a tablespoon of cumin seeds, along with a big pinch of ground cardamom. Add three cloves of garlic, a one-and-a-half-inch piece of ginger, and a jalapeño, all finely minced. Cook for several minutes, until softened. 

Add sweet potato greens by the handful, letting each batch wilt slightly before adding more. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until greens are very soft, about 10 minutes. Season with salt, cayenne pepper, and a few squeezes of lime juice. Add half a cup of cream, stock, or water and gently scrape the bottom of the pan to pick up anything that’s sticking. Fold in cubes of cheese and simmer for about five minutes until heated through. 

In addition to greens, markets are still at their summer vegetable peak, with tomatoes, beans, peppers, eggplant, okra, squash, potatoes, and much more. Watermelon and cantaloupe are picking up speed, and there are also peaches, pears, apples, and nectarines. Markets offer meats, eggs, bread, cheese, fermented products, baked goods, and beverages. Find more details about farms and markets throughout the region in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide.

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