Malabar Spinach – What Is It?
Malabar spinach (Basella alba or Basella rubra) is not a true spinach, but rather a climbing vine in a class by itself. Other common names include Vine Spinach, Red Vine Spinach, Creeping Spinach, and Ceylon Spinach. Even though it’s not a true spinach, it has the same taste.
The variety Alba has white flowers and green vines, while the variety Rubra has pinkish flowers and purplish red vines. I haven’t noticed a difference in taste between the two.
The leaves and stem contain mucilage, so it can appear slimy when broken off the vine. This mucilage is a great source of soluble fiber, much like pectin in apples.
Cooking With Malabar Spinach
Malabar spinach can be used raw, in salads, or as a stand alone vegetable. You can also use it like spinach in soups and stews. Steamed malabar spinach is great and will yield more than conventional spinach due to its fleshy nature.