Do you ever go to the farmer’s market and see vegetables that you’ve never seen before? Do you wonder about cooking with them? I do, All The Time. It’s part of the fun, taking a chance on a new food to experiment with, learn about, and taste. This week, I encourage you to try something new from the farmer’s market. Do some research online to find an interesting recipe, figure out how to use it, be Curious about your vegetables, make it Fun!
I have been curious about Malabar spinach for some time. At the farmer’s market, it is a heap of thick curvy vine with shiny bright green leaves. The leaves resemble something like a very hearty-looking spinach. But Malabar spinach is only distantly related to the spinach we’re all used to. And the stem is really a long-growing mucilaginous vine, that grows proficiently in the Florida heat.
According to Dr. Andrew Weil, Malabar spinach is rich in vitamins A and C, iron and calcium. It is also a good source of soluble fiber. Malabar spinach contains a decent amount of protein, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, as well as antioxidants like beta carotene and lutein.
From my research online, most people recommend cooking Malabar spinach by stir-frying it with oil, garlic and ginger. I will have to try this.
For this week’s recipe, I substituted raw Malabar spinach leaves for regular spinach leaves in a simple salad with roasted sweet potatoes and red onions. I haven’t tried it before, so this will be an experiment for all of us. And if you live in St. Pete, come down to the Saturday Morning Market 11/3 and we can try it together at the Taste Station!
Fernando, a farmer at Little Pond Farm, with Malabar spinach
Roasted Sweet Potato and Malabar Spinach Salad
1 lb sweet potatoes or winter squash, cut into bite-sized cubes
1 red onion, sliced thin
1 bunch Malabar spinach, or regular spinach
2 oz mixed greens (optional)
1/3 c pumpkin seeds, roasted and salted
1/2 c olive oil
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/2 t stone ground mustard (I used a Sweet German Beer Mustard from Urban Canning Co)
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 t salt
Directions: Toss the sweet potato cubes and red onions in a little olive oil, sprinkle with some salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Check and toss about halfway through, and when they’re done allow to cool completely.
Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid, and shake! Tear the leaves of Malabar spinach into pieces, add mixed greens if using, and pumpkin seeds. Add the roasted sweet potatoes and red onions. Dress to taste, toss and serve!