…Served on a Bed of Sweet Potato Greens

Spicy glazed sweet potatoes on a bed of sweet potato greens

Just in time for your holiday meal planning I’ve got Spicy Glazed Sweet Potato with Sweet Potato Greens. Or are they yam greens? Or does it really matter?

I ask because one of my favorite things to order in Thai restaurants are morning glory greens that are stir-fried and doused in a spicy fish sauce. They’re so savory and addictive. I keep hoping I’ll run across the fresh version at the farmers market someday. If I do I’ll try to recreate that dish here on Sippity Sup.

However, I wonder if I’m waiting for nothing. Maybe the greens I seek are right under my nose.

The flowering vine known as morning glory is a member of the genus Ipomoea. Included in that genus are sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) and water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica). Both of these are common greens eaten the world over (though especially in Asian countries). Sweet potato greens make regular appearances at the Hollywood Farmers Market. Or are they yam greens?

Yams and sweet potatoes are different tubers from different genera (that’s the proper plural for genus I think). Years ago, when orange-fleshed sweet potatoes were introduced in the southern United States, producers and shippers thought they needed to distinguish them from the more traditional, white-fleshed potatoes. So the marketing geniuses settled on the name of a similar tuber known in Africa as nyami (of the Dioscorea genus). The word needed to be Americanized (of course?) and became yam. So, in this country at least, yams are actually sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) and have a moist texture and an orange (or sometimes white) flesh. Although the terms are generally used interchangeably, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that the label “yam” always be accompanied by “sweet potato” (but not vice versa). This is probably what led to the confusion and has nothing to do with the spicy glazed sweet potatoes on a bed of sweet potato greens recipe I present here. It’s just some factual information I chose to include.

What I’m trying to get at is this. When I was at the Hollywood Farmers Market I saw greens that were labeled yam greens. I picked them up thinking I’d use them for the Thai-spiced morning glory greens (of the Ipomoea family) that I mentioned earlier. However, once I got home I discovered that the yams are not Ipomoea. So I balked, did I have verbally Americanized Dioscorea or governmentally mislabeled Ipomoea? It’s a huge conundrum.

So I took my queues from the season and roasted up some spicy glazed sweet potatoes and served them on a bed of sweet potato greens. I figure if I serve these greens with actual sweet potatoes there’s no denying that they’re sweet potato greens. Or does it really matter? GREG

sweet potatoessweet potatoes greens

Spicy Glazed Sweet Potatoes and Sweet Potato Greens 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 8–10Source Adapted from Diane Morgan AND Saveur MagazinePublished

Do ahead: The sweet potatoes can be roasted up to 1 day in advance. Refrigerate, covered, then bring to room temperature 2 hours before reheating. Alternatively, they can be roasted up to 4 hours in advance and set aside at room temperature. Reheat before serving, basting with the glaze.

Spicy Glazed Sweet Potatoes and Sweet Potato Greens


  • 4 pound sweet potoes (peeled, cut in half cross wise then cut into ½‑inch wedges)
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more as needed for seasoning)
  • 1 bunch sweet potato greens (or other greens of your choosing)
  • 2 tablespoon peanut oil (or other high smoking point oil)
  • 1 red onion (halved and sliced)
  • 1 clove garlic (peeled and sliced)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the sweet potato wedges in a large bowl. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with the 1‑tablespoon butter and set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the remaining ½ cup butter. Whisk in the chili powder and then add the honey, lemon juice, and salt. Bring to a simmer stirring constantly; continue simmering for three minutes to meld the glaze.

Pour the glaze over the sweet potatoes and toss until well-coated. Arrange them in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl, drizzling any remaining glaze over the potatoes. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Roast, covered, for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and baste the the potatoes. Continue to bake until caramelized at the edges, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately, or keep warm in a low oven for up to 30 minutes. Baste before serving.

Just before serving cut off and discard the largest stems from sweet potato greens, so that you are left with only the leaves and tender stems. (You should have about 1⁄2 lb.) Roughly chop the largest leaves so everything is uniformly sized.

Heat oil until almost smoking in a slope sided skillet or wok set over high heat. Add onions and garlic. Stir-fry quickly until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add sweet potato greens and salt to taste. Stir-fry until leaves are just wilted and onion is crisp-tender, 2–3 minutes more. Transfer to a large platter and top with the warm sweet potato wedges. Serve immediately.