What Is This Slimy Yet Delicious "Spinach Vine"?

What Is This Slimy Yet Delicious "Spinach Vine"?

Faith Durand
Nov 11, 2010

Q: Late last spring, I bought a plant that the seller called it a "spinach vine." It exploded. Shooting beautiful red-purple vines everywhere with thick, succulent-like and spinach-flavored leaves, we took the seller at his word and ate the leaves like (albeit slimy) spinach.

It wasn't until late summer/early fall when a friend from Sri Lanka came into the garden that I even considered that this plant may have a broader fan base. She said that in her culture, this plant IS spinach, and urged us to pick vigorously, freeze, when the time came, to save the seeds. I'm wondering — have any other Kitchn readers encountered this plant? It has an unpleasantly slimy texture (think okra), that I grimace and bear, but how is it best prepared?

Sent by Lillian

Editor: Lillian, yes, I have grown this in my garden as well. It is a great substitute for spinach and other tender greens because it doesn't just tolerate the high heat and humidity of summer — it thrives when other greens have wilted away. This "slimy spinach" goes by several other names: New Zealand spinach and Malabar spinach are perhaps the most common. Also, sometimes it is called "slippery vegetable." So, it might help to search for recipes and techniques under those names. Here are two past articles from The Kitchn on Malabar spinach:

What Is Malabar Spinach?
Farmers' Market Find: New Zealand Spinach

Readers, any tips for the last of Lillian's Malabar spinach?


Related: Know Your Asian Greens

(Image: Faith Durand)

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