Saturday, August 14, 2010

Indian Spinach

This thick-stemmed, thick-leafed vegetable looks a bit like basil on steroids, but tastes like a cross between asparagus and spinach. It's called Indian spinach, but in fact it's no relation to ordinary spinach at all. I'd never even seen it before I got some in my box of vegetables from Kawakami Farm, but it's quite non-threatening - the stems are easy to wash, the leaves are smooth and waxy, and there are no scary spines or fuzzy bits to deal with. I just rinsed it off, chopped it up, and started cooking.
I wasn't sure what to do with it, so I just did what I often do with other green vegetables: boiled it in a little soy sauce with a sliced-up red pepper for a bit of a kick. In the time it took for the soy sauce to cook down, the leaves were wilted and the stems tender. With its buttery aftertaste, like that of asparagus or artichokes, the hot pepper was a good pair, though I don't think I'd use soy sauce next time - just salt water. It went well with rice, but would also be great with a thick, ribbony pasta. It seems like there's an endless variety of greens in the world, and I'm always excited to discover a new one.

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