Exploring the Versatility of Brazilian Spinach: A Hidden Gem in the Culinary World

Greens all year round- even in our hot, humid, subtropical summer!

Brazilian spinach is a low growing perennial leaf vegetable.

It forms a bush to 30 cm high.

The leaves are mid green, round and crinkled.

The flowers are small and white and don't spread seed

It is suitable for subtropical and tropical areas.

Brazilian Spinach will tolerate most soils, although it prefers a moderate to rich loam. It dislikes waterlogging. It can be planted in full sun to medium shade.

BOTANICAL NAME: Alternanthera sissoo
COMMON NAMES: Poor Man's Spinach , Samba Lettuce, Sissoo Spinach
FAMILY: Amaranthaceae
ORIGIN: Brazil

Uses: Food, Living Mulch, Edging Plant 

  • It is a green leafy vegetable, without the slimy texture that people often dislike with Aibika or Ceylon spinach.
  • Fresh Brazilian spinach is firm and has a crunchy texture.
  • You can use it in the same way you would use spinach or silverbeet.
  • If eaten in large quantities, it requires steaming or boiling because of the presence of oxalates.
  • Serving suggestions include: salads; added to quiches, pies, curries, dahl, pasta sauces, lasagne; added to dishes like stir-fries (late in the cooking process as a spinach substitute and to add a nutty flavour)
  • It can be planted as a living mulch e.g. under fruit trees
  • Its growth habit makes it a handy plant for edging paths

Planting Details

  • Grows easily from cuttings. Propagate during spring
  • Plant cuttings that are 15 – 20 cm long. Strip the leaves off the bottom half of the stems and bury a quarter of the length. Keep moist. When established, the cuttings shoot from the roots and quickly form dense clumps.
  • Space 60 cm apart, mulch well.
  • Brazilian spinach does not set viable seed and is not considered invasive.
  • Plucking the leaves downward encourages new leaves to shoot from the stem.
  • The plant is cut back to the ground every year, refreshing the foliage.

    Brazilian spinach recipes to tantalize your taste buds:

    1. Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breast: Tender chicken breasts filled with a savory mixture of spinach and creamy feta cheese, baked to perfection.

    2. Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip: A decadent appetizer featuring creamy spinach and artichoke hearts, perfect for dipping your favorite bread or chips.

    3. Spinach and Mushroom Quiche: A classic brunch dish made with a buttery crust filled with sautéed spinach, mushrooms, and creamy custard.

    4. Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells: Jumbo pasta shells stuffed with a mixture of spinach, ricotta cheese, and herbs, baked in marinara sauce and topped with melted mozzarella.

    5. Spinach and fetta parcels:Cooked, seasoned spinach mixed with feta and nuts wrapped in crispy pastry. 

    6. Spinach and Lentil Soup: A hearty and nutritious soup made with tender lentils, spinach, carrots, and celery, flavored with aromatic herbs and spices.

    7. Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms: Meaty portobello mushroom caps filled with a flavorful mixture of spinach, cheese, garlic, and breadcrumbs, baked until golden and bubbly.

    8. Spinach and Bacon Quinoa Salad: A protein-packed salad featuring fluffy quinoa, crispy bacon, fresh cooked spinach, sweet cherry tomatoes, and a zesty lemon vinaigrette.

    9. Spinach and Goat Cheese Flatbread: A light and crispy flatbread topped with wilted spinach, creamy goat cheese, caramelized onions, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

    10. Spinach and Potato Curry: A comforting vegetarian curry made with tender potatoes, aromatic spices, and plenty of fresh spinach, served with fluffy rice or warm naan bread.

    Malaysian-Style Stir-Fry Recipe

    Fresh Brazilian spinach leaves, plucked from the stems 
    Garlic, finely chopped (be generous with it) 
    Salt, to taste 
    Cooking oil

    1. Start by rinsing the Brazilian spinach leaves thoroughly and gently drying them with a paper towel. Set them aside for later use.
    2. In a pan or wok, heat some cooking oil over medium heat.
    3. Add the finely chopped garlic to the heated oil and sauté until it becomes fragrant and golden brown.
    4. Introduce the Brazilian spinach leaves to the pan, ensuring they are evenly coated with the aromatic garlic-infused oil.
    5. Season with salt to your taste preference and continue to stir-fry the leaves until they reach your desired level of tenderness.
    6. Once the Brazilian spinach is cooked to perfection, transfer it to a serving dish and enjoy it as a flavorful side dish alongside your main meal.