Sweet and Savory Sweet Potato Greens


Yes, you CAN eat the green tops of sweet potatoes that curl and snake above the tubers themselves, tucked safely below the earth. Sweet potato greens — sold in Asian supermarkets as “yam leaf” — in fact come in a variety of color and shape these days, with their growing popularity as ornamental vines. They taste a lot like spinach, are packed with nutrients and farmers are discovering a burgeoning market for these once-tossed-away side harvest to the perennial favorite tuber of fall. Look for the greens in your local farmer’s market — or CSA – starting in June and going through the fall harvest of sweet potatoes. This recipe was demoed by Adrienne in April 2016 as part of our “Top-to-Toe” month.

8 C sweet potato/yam leaves, stems removed, washed
1 T olive oil
½ onion, diced
½ t Dijon mustard
2 t sugar
½ t hot pepper flakes
1 t salt
1-2 T cider vinegar
3/4 C vegetable or chicken stock
2 T dried cranberries
2 T chopped nuts

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook and until softened and translucent, about two min.; add garlic and cook another two minutes until garlic is fragrant. Combine mustard, sugar, salt, hot pepper flakes, one tablespoon vinegar and add to pan, stirring the ingredients together until sugar is dissolved and they are well incorporated. Add stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the sweet potato leaves, cover and turn heat down to a simmer. Stir in the cranberries and continue simmering until the liquid has reduced by about half, and the cranberries have softened, about 10 min. Season to taste with pepper and more vinegar as desired. Sprinkle with nuts before serving.

Freekeh Pilaf




Freekeh is the young, green wheat that has been cracked and toasted. It’s a healthy, whole grain and can be substituted for bulgur. This recipe was inspired by Ottolenghi, the great Isreali chef who has several terrific restuarants in the UK. It was demoed by Danielle as part of our “50 Shades of Grain” series in October and November 2015.

 1 large onion, thinly slice
2 T olive oil
2/3 C freekeh
1 C vegetable broth
1/8 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t ground allspice
1 C Greek yogurt
2 t fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ garlic clove, minced
1 T each – fresh chopped parsley, mint and/or cilantro
2 T pine nuts, toasted (can substitute sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, walnuts or pecans)

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based pot and add the sliced onion. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally until the onion is soft and brown, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, rinse the freekeh in cold water to remove any film or residue. Add the freekeh, cinnamon and allspice to the onions, followed by the broth. Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce the heat to a bare minimum and leave to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and leave it covered for another 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff to allow steam out and the pilaf to cool down a bit.

While the pilaf is cooling, mix together the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and a bit of salt. Taste and adjust for more lemon or salt. When the pilaf has released it’s steam and cooled a bit, add the chopped herbs and nuts. Stir well, taste and adjust for salt. Serve with a generous dollop of yogurt on top and a trickle of olive oil, if desired. Serves 2-4.

Tahini Sauce with Nut Pesto and Pomegranate Seeds





This combination has it all – tart lemon, crunchy nuts, sweet pomegranate seeds. It’s also chock full of nutrition and it’s versatile. Great over grilled or sauteed fish, grilled chicken or roasted or grilled lamb and even vegetables.  You could serve it as a dip or toss a salad with it.  Pomegranate molasses is a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine and can be found in specialty food stores or on line.  There’s nothing quite like it, but you can substitute balsamic syrup, made by boiling down balsamic vinegar until it becomes slightly syrupy.  We adapted this from Fine Cooking and demoed it last January. We’re rolling it out again for our September 2015 Mediterranean demos at the US Botanic Garden in honor of its new exhibit from the region. This time, Danielle had the pleasure of making this dish, served on pita bread.

Tahini sauce

6 T tahini (sesame seed paste, available in supermarket health food section)
4 t fresh lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, crushed
½ t ground cumin
Kosher salt

For the nut-herb topping

¼ C toasted, finely chopped almonds
¼ C toasted, finely chopped walnuts
¼ C finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 T. finely chopped red onion
2½  T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 T finely chopped fresh mint
1/8 t crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


¼ C pomegranate arils (see note, above)
2 t pomegranate molasses

Make the tahini sauce

Process the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, ¼ t salt, and 5 T water in a food processor until smooth, about 1 minute.

Make the nut-herb topping

In a medium bowl, gently toss the almonds, walnuts, cilantro, onion, olive oil, parsley, mint, and pepper flakes with ¼t salt and 1/8 t pepper until well combined. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.

Serve the tahini sauce sprinkled with the nut-herb mixture and topped with pomegranate seeds. Drizzle pomegranate molasses.

Pistachio Cardamom Cookies


We cooked these up for Fox5 News Feb 26, 2014.

The heady combination of cardamom and pistachio evokes the Middle East.  Serve these cookies with sliced oranges drizzled with honey and crushed pistachios, or vanilla icecream topped with toasted chopped pistachios. It’s worth hinting down the unusual ingredients for these cookies. Pistachio flour and nut paste are available at specialty grocery stores and on line. These cookies were a hit at US Botanic garden January 16 2014 and Adrienne demoed them again January 22 2014 at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton MD. Recipe adapted from simplysavory.net. Read More