Malabar spinach is possibly my favorite summer plant to grow because it’s super tasty, low-maintenance, and GORGEOUS. Last year when we were trying out a bunch of new summer veggies, my Malabar spinach was unfortunately vetoed by the mama bear since we didn’t have enough space. Mother-daughter give and take at its best… but this year my Malabar spinach is back in the game, and I’m pumped! It’s just now getting started and its already the veggie garden showstopper.
Malabar spinach loves to climb and thrives in full sun with hot and humid conditions — let’s just say Dallas summers definitely get hot enough. Eating Malabar spinach is very similar to eating regular spinach. I personally prefer to eat it raw in a salad, and it’s much juicer and crisper than the regular spinach we’re used to. When cooked, the Malabar spinach leaves also hold up better than regular spinach and don’t wilt as quickly. To top it all off, this plant is such a fast grower and is so prolific that you could be eating homegrown spinach salads every day throughout the summer if you wanted to.
So ditch the prepackaged lettuce mixes for some homegrown, iron-rich, Malabar spinach! If you’ve never grown veggies before or feel like you don’t have a green thumb, this extremely low-maintenance and forgiving plant is the one to start with. Sometimes I feel like all we do is watch it grow! Even if you don't have a veggie garden, you can always put it in a pot and away you go. Just remember that pots dry out faster than veggie beds so it might require some regular attention to watering. This website gives good tips and guidelines on how to grow Malabar Spinach. If you want to read a little more about why we should ditch packaged greens (even though admittedly they make salad prepping very easy and convenient), this is a great blog on 7 reasons why you should move away from those prepackaged leaves.
Need some inspiration for how to eat your new favorite leafy green this summer? Below is a Bon Appétit recipe for a Spinach Salad with Oranges and Almonds. I've replaced their packaged baby spinach with homegrown Malabar spinach. You can also get wild and sprinkle a little blue or goats cheese on top. Yum!
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 green onions, minced
3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
9 ounces of Malabar spinach (or really as much as you want!)
2/3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
Whisk first 7 ingredients in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Cut peel and white pith from oranges. Working over medium bowl, cut between membranes to release segments. Dressing and oranges can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill. Rewhisk dressing before using.
Combine spinach, half of almonds and all orange segments in large bowl with enough dressing to coat. Divide among 6 plates. Sprinkle with almonds.