Malabar spinach and potato stir-fry is a fantastic way to make the most of these two ingredients. I’ll take my greens with potatoes any day. I’ll take my potatoes with greens any day. And when both are stir-fried in under 15 minutes, all the better. Plus, there are only six ingredients. In this post, I’ll also introduce you to Malabar spinach, my new favorite tropical green.
Introducing: Malabar spinach
To be sure, I don’t like every green I meet. Some permaculture greens are perfectly safe to eat, but come with a “maybe I shouldn’t be eating this” aftertaste. Then, in walks Malabar spinach, a green that’s as easy to grow in hot weather as it is to cook and actually like. Filled with a nutrient complex to rival English spinach, it tastes similar to English spinach, too: quite mild with a slightly grassy aftertaste (emphasis on the slightly).
Planting: You’ll need more seeds than you think if you want to germinate some Malabar spinach plants. So plant 5-8 seeds and hopefully you’ll get 1-2 plants. Sometimes, It’s helpful to “scarify” the seeds–which means scratching the surface–but the best method I’ve found is simply planting seeds right off a plant. You can also easily plant cuttings.
Timing: You should definitely plant vines in late spring to summer. Plants will balloon with growth in rainy weather over 90 degrees. If those conditions aren’t met, you might end up with Malabar “sticks” poking out of the ground instead of long luscious vines.
Caring for mature plants: Make sure your vines have a trellis to hold onto. They love climbing and will pretty much take over. Fertilize regularly with organic, nitrogen-rich fertilizer, and be sure to prune the flowers (the white things in the picture above). That way, your leaves will grow bigger and the plant will put out more new growth.
Harvesting: To harvest Malabar spinach, just cut off a few long vines. This can get tricky, since you don’t want to accidentally cut your whole vine off! Then, avoid separating the leaves from the stem for as long as possible. This will help them avoid wilting. Simply wash and add to salad, soup, or stir-fry. Yes, these leaves can be eaten raw or cooked.
Nutrition: If the ease of growing isn’t enough to entice you to add some Malabar spinach to your garden, then maybe the nutrition will be. Like raw spinach, raw Malabar spinach has a high vitamin A content. Additionally, 100g has a whopping 170% of your daily value of vitamin C. That’s significantly more than regular spinach. It also contains some iron, calcium, magnesium, and manganese. Wow! Check out the full profile.
How to make Malabar spinach and potato stir-fry
It’s really quite simple, but here are a few things you may want to consider. First of all, should you be cooking the stems? After all, I see stems chopped up in the picture…
The answer is it depends. As a wannabe survivalist, I rarely say no to an opportunity for extra fiber. However, the stems end up brittle when fried too long. Think about eating a stir-fry filled with the woody ends of asparagus. So short story: try it without the stems. Next time, you might want to experiment with adding your stems later in the cooking process.
Likewise, you may have heard that Malabar spinach is “mucilaginous.” (After cooking this dish, I was banned from saying that word in our house.) That’s not entirely true in my experience. When eaten fresh, yes, Malabar spinach has a smooth, juicy mouthfeel. But after wilting for a few seconds, this texture seems to fade. I don’t find the texture all that apparent, and probably neither will you.
Finally, I have to give a shoutout to Rumi Cooks, whose blog had one of the only Malabar spinach stir-fry recipes I could find on Pinterest! I based my recipe on it and did not regret it. Take a look at this blog for more Assamese and Bengali recipes.
Looking for other recipes featuring perennial greens that grow in the sub-tropics? (Who isn’t? 😉) Check out these Summer Rolls with Okinawa Spinach.Print
A quick, 6-ingredient stir-fry featuring a tropical, vining spinach.
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1–2 green Thai bird chilis, slitted down the middle
- 1 potato, cut into wedges then diced into cubes no more than ½ inch wide
- salt, to taste
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 pinches turmeric
- 1 cup loosely packed Malabar spinach leaves (regular spinach okay, too.)
- Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. When hot, add the coconut oil. When the oil is hot, add the green chili(s) and the mustard seeds. Cook until the mustard seeds start to splutter and jump (this usually takes about 30 seconds).
- Turn the heat down to medium-low and and add the potatoes, stirring to coat the potatoes in oil. Keep cooking for about 9 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the potatoes from sticking to the bottom of the pan. About halfway through, add a sprinkle of salt to the potatoes.
- When 9 minutes is up, add the water and continue cooking until the water has evaporated. This helps to soften the potatoes and cook any larger pieces. Keep cooking your potatoes until they are tender but not falling apart (for me this was one more minute).
- Add the two pinches of turmeric and stir until coated. (Don’t add too much turmeric here. We’re looking to add a bite to the sweetness of the potatoes, not turn your stir-fry electric orange!)
- Finally, turn off the heat and add the spinach leaves. Keep stirring until the greens change from light green to deep green and just begin to stick to the potatoes.
- Serve with an additional sprinkling of salt on top.
It’s totally fine to use regular spinach if you don’t have any Malabar spinach lying around at home.
Recipe adapted from Rumi Cooks.
Keywords: potato, spinach, Malabar spinach, vegetables, veggies, vegetarian, vegan, stir-fry, simple