coconut-flavored sweet potato with greens

by Stacy

Fall and winter are the toughest times of year for farms. Unlike the summer harvests which overflow with sexy produce like juicy heirloom tomatoes and bright bell peppers, fall and winter are marked by hardier, less inspirational stuff. Squat squash stack sturdily and dark leafy greens languish on market tables. While we’re lucky to get our CSA year-round, some winter shares tend toward the monochromatic.

When my cousin sent me a message asking for ideas to use up a metric crap-ton (the technical term) of mustard greens, I knew just where to look: my shiny new copy of Greens Glorious Greens: More than 140 Ways to Prepare All Those Great-Tasting, Super-Healthy, Beautiful Leafy Greens. I flipped through the chapter on mustard greens, listing off a few options, but we both screeched to a halt at “Coconut-Flavored Sweet Potato with Mustard Greens.”

We both made variations of it for satisfying and delicious dinners, two thousand miles apart.

mixed spices

Particularly enjoyable is the combination of floral ground coriander, earthy mustard, and spicy cinnamon. The recipe calls for mustard seeds, but I didn’t have any whole ones. My cousin used a grainy mustard, I used ground mustard. No complaints from either of us.

Since sweet potatoes are on the list of veggies my husband doesn’t like, I wanted to bulk up the dish a bit. I did, by adding more veggies he doesn’t like. Hah.

cheddar cauliflower

This is cheddar cauliflower from our CSA. It turns a spectacular shade of vibrant yellow when cooked, and adds heft and dimension to the dish. I also threw in some multi-colored carrots (which my husband mistook for summer squash and tried to complain about until I reminded him that I don’t like carrots and ate them anyway).


Sweet potatoes and carrots are both great vegetables to add to your diet to help curb sugar cravings. Their natural sweetness gives you a sugary sensation that’s actually healthy for you. The coconut milk doesn’t hurt, either.

The white sweet potato I had worked out fine, but I would highly recommend an orange one, both for color and texture. This dish obviously needs some pizazz.

Oh, good thing we’re adding 4 cups of chopped greens. Whew!

adding greens

Don’t be scared, they cook waaaaaaay down.

The recipe calls for strong-flavored mustard greens which mellow after simmering in the coconut milk. Since I didn’t have those, I used a mixture of spinach and Swiss chard which worked out really well, but may cook down more than sturdier mustard greens.

greens cooked down

See? Much better.

My husband even agreed that it could have used more greens! He didn’t love this meal, but considering that he doesn’t like sweet potatoes, cauliflower, or chard, I actually consider it a moderate success.

I was also happy because it meant I got the leftovers all to myself. How often are you excited about having leftovers for lunch? I looked forward to lunch for the next three days!

This would be great served as a side with a small amount of protein, or even with some sliced tofu mixed in. We enjoyed it as recommended with as serving of basmati rice. If you’re trying to incorporate more whole grains into your diet and just can’t hop on the brown rice train, I encourage you to try brown basmati rice. It does take longer to cook (about 45-60 minutes), but it smells like popcorn while it cooks and is more fragrant and flavorful than normal brown rice. My trick is make way more than we need then refrigerate and/or freeze the excess.

Do you buy dark leafy greens? What are you favorites? Kale? Collard greens? Beet greens? Escarole?

coconut-flavored sweet potatoes and greens

Coconut-Flavored Sweet Potato with Veggies and Greens

Inspired by Greens Glorious Greens by Johnna Albi and Catherine Walthers
Serves 4-6

I only used one white sweet potato. I buy organic potatoes, scrub them well, and leave the fiber- and protein-rich skin on. Peel them if you prefer. For “stronger” greens, 4 cups might suffice. If using spinach you may want to add more greens as it cooks down considerably.


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds (or 1/2 tsp ground mustard or prepared grainy mustard added later)
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced into 1/2″ coins (if slender) or half-moons
  • 2-3 cups diced sweet potato (about 2 medium potatoes)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 4-6 cups (about 3/4 pound) mustard greens, or other leafy greens like spinach or chard
  • 1 small lemon or lime


  1. Heat oil in large, lidded saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about five minutes. Add garlic and mustard seeds and cook, stirring, until fragrant, another minute or two.
  2. Stir in cauliflower and carrots. Add sweet potato. Pour in coconut milk and spices. Cover and cook over medium heat about 10 minutes until vegetables start to soften.
  3. Meanwhile, rinse the greens and remove and discard tough stalks. Chop the greens.
  4. Add greens to pot and stir. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer about 15 minutes until vegetables are soft and greens are tender. Remove cinnamon stick and adjust salt if needed.
  5. Serve alone or with basmati rice. Add a wedge of lemon or lime on each plate, or drizzle with fresh juice before serving.

coconut-flavored sweet potatoes and greens

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Bridget December 14, 2010 at 4:53 pm

I’ll have to try brown basmati rice, because rice is the one grain that I’ve have trouble transitioning over the unrefined version.

I love greens! Kale is my favorite, but I have no real reason for that. I’ve added it to mashed potatoes before, and I love it braised over toast with a poached egg on top.


Stacy December 16, 2010 at 9:25 am

You should! I bought a small amount from a bulk bin to start. Though I was concerned about the husband transitioning, he really likes it (except the longer cooking time).

I peeked at our CSA share contents for the week (they post it online) and you’re going to see a lot more recipes for greens next week. =)


Erika December 16, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Is “crap-ton” the metric equivalent of my favorite diagnosis, “crazytown”? As in, “That broad is totally crazytown.”

Also, I heart greens. Thanks for more ideas!


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