I am a lazy gardener. There are few things I love more than a plant that can take off and grow all by itself. Malabar spinach is one of those plants. It is fast growing, heat tolerant, pest resistant, and beautiful to look at. It is not a commonly grown vegetable, but one worth making some space for, especially during the summer months.
Malabar spinach goes by several names (red vine spinach, Indian spinach, etc.) and the seeds are not hard to locate online. It is a creeping vine and can be grown in the ground or a container. It has bright red stems and thick foliage and adds a pop of color to your garden at a time of year when everything else is green. It is extremely well suited to Florida’s climate but grows the best during summer. It loves the heat and prefers full sun. It will take off in the summer rains and can reach up to 8 feet long. It is not frost tolerant, but if left alone it will self sow, coming back year after year. It is one of the few summer greens that can be eaten both raw or cooked, making it a valuable addition to your landscape.
Both the leaves and small shoots are edible and the dark berry juice is used as a natural food colorant. It is not a true spinach, but has a very spinach-y taste especially when cooked. The leaves are fat like a succulent and have a thick almost meaty texture which makes them a tasty addition to a salad or sandwich. Cooking the greens brings out more of the spinach flavor, but causes them to develop an okra like consistency. They do well in stir fries or soups.
I like to eat them raw and often pinch the leaves off while I am outside weeding the beds. I think the heavy texture and spinach flavor are a perfect complement for goat cheese.
Large Bowl of Salad Greens (with Malabar Spinach, of course)
3/4 Cup Walnuts
3/4 Cup Dried Cranberries
1 Cup Goat Cheese
Balsamic Vinegar Dressing