Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sweet Potato Leaf-Lemon Cucumber Stir-Fry

Sweet Potato Leaf-Lemon Cucumber Stir-Fry

This dish was inspired by a vendor I met this week at our local farmer's market.

We had gotten into a conversation about some lemon cucumbers I had picked up in his stand.  I had never eaten a lemon cucumber before, so I was asking him if he thought they would be good pickled.  He said he didn't think so because they are sweeter than regular pickles. 

After five or six questions about the lemon cucumbers, he offered to cut one open so I could try it.  I told him that wouldn't be necessary, and then admitted I planned to buy them no matter what his answers had been.

I hoped this would get at least a smile, and it did.  He's now my favorite vendor at the market because he gets my sense of humor :) 

We continued to talk about some of the other items he had for sale (and just vegetables in general) until another customer had come up to purchase some type of greens.  I didn't see what type they were, but I asked him how he normally cooks them anyway.  Partially just to keep the conversation going and I was just wondering if I'd discover anything new.  I did -- but not in cooking technique.

He turned my attention to another stack of greens and said they were his favorite and added that they aren't as bitter as the other ones.

I said, of course, "What are they?"  Because I'd didn't recognize them.

"Sweet potato leaves", he said.

Then he told me he just sautes them with some garlic.

Sounded pretty standard, but I was sold....

....I had to give them a try.


About an hour before making this dish, I cut up a few tomatoes from our garden.  I also cut up some left over grape tomatoes that needed to be used.  I dumped them all in a dish and covered them with balsamic vinegar.

When I got ready to put the dish together, I got out most of what I needed and took this photo.
[Sweet potato leaves, green beans, balsamic tomatoes, asparagus and lemon cucumber]

I read online that it is good to boil the leaves for a couple of minutes, then put them immediately in cold water before cooking them further.  Something about them having a bit of an oily texture if you don't?  If that's not necessary, I'd appreciate it if someone would let me know.   Since I wasn't sure, I did as suggested.  After they were in the cold water for about 30 seconds, I emptied out the water and left the leaves in the bowl until I was ready for them.

I used the leaves as seen in the photo.  I cut the green beans into thirds, and the asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces.  I cut the lemon cucumbers in half and then sliced them 1/8 inch or so thick.  

Once the vegetables were prepped, I put some grapeseed oil in my wok and let it heat up.

I tossed in about two tablespoons of prepared chopped garlic and sauted it for a minute.

I added the asparagus and green bean, and sauted over high heat for two minutes.

I grabbed the sweet potato leaves and gave them a few good shakes to make sure more of the water got removed.

Then I tossed the leaves into the wok, along with the lemon cucumber and balsamic tomatoes (along with only about a tablespoon of the vinegar).

I sauted everything for another two minutes, then removed it to a serving dish.

I prefer my vegetables on the firmer side, so if you don't, you may want to saute this dish a little longer.

We enjoyed this dish, but will probably use non-stick spray instead of the oil next time.  We didn't feel it added anything extra.

The balsamic tomatoes stay though - they were really good in this dish.

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