Malabar Spinach

I bought some seeds from Terroir this spring for a spinach that supposedly doesn’t bolt in hot weather. I planted it, and it came up looking like spinach. “Cool,” I thought. I ignored it for a while and then the vines took over the garden! It’s not really a spinach, but a tropical plant native to India and Southeast Asia.

According to Wikipedia, “Basella alba is an edible perennial vine in the family Basellaceae. It is found in tropical Asia and Africa where it is widely used as a leaf vegetable. It is native to the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and New Guinea.” 

The leaves are sweet and thick even into the middle of September. I’ve been picking the leaves and putting them on sandwiches. They taste something like spinach, but have a hint of sweetness like sweetcorn. I haven’t sauteed any yet, but they supposedly taste like spinach when cooked.

This would certainly be a way to have greens all year, and they will grow up a trellis. I need to try more uses before the weather gets colder. Could be the discovery of the year.