New Zealand Spinach

New Zealand spinach or Tetragonia tetragonioides is not actually a true spinach, but is comparable when cooked.  It has succulent-like nature of the leaves and is therefore also occasionally referred to as ‘ice plant’. Its flavour is very similar to common spinach with the same sharp taste; however, the New Zealand spinach does not get as bitter.

As the common name suggests, the plant is native to New Zealand and Australia, where it grows on coastal dunes and bluffs. It’s also known as Warrigal greens, sea spinach, tetragon, Botany Bay spinach, and Cook's cabbage.

It is high in Vitamins A and C, it was discovered, eaten and introduced to England by Captain Cook and his crew to battle scurvy during their South Seas expedition. From there on it found its way around the globe,

Storage: Store spinach loosely in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper for about 5 days.  Do not wash before storing.  Avoid storing cooked spinach as it does not keep very well.

General Use: Spinach should be washed well since the leaves and stems tend to collect sand and soil.  Trim off the roots and separate the leaves before washing.  Cut away any overly thick stems to ensure even cooking.

New Zealand spinach can be used like common spinach; raw, sauteed, steamed, or braised. Make salads or use as a bed for meats and fish. New Zealand spinach contains a high level of oxalic acid which can inhibit the body’s ability to absorb other nutrients. Cooking can reduce and sometimes rid the vegetable of oxalic acid. Saute and combine with cheeses and herbs to stuff chicken or pork. Add leaves to soups or stews or add cooked New Zealand spinach to lasagnas.

Salad: Mix olive oil, sugar, finely chopped onion, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and white wine vinegar in a jar and refrigerate overnight.  Clean leaf lettuce, spinach and a little cabbage and refrigerate in plastic bag one hour or longer.  Toss all salad ingredients with the dressing, a little at a time, until all are coated.

Warm Salad: In a fry pan, fry diced bacon until crisp.  Reduce heat and add brown sugar, sliced onions, sea salt, vinegar, and dry mustard and bring to a boil. Pour the hot mixture over clean chilled spinach.  Toss lightly and serve.

Sautéed: In wok heat olive oil and add chopped garlic or shallots and sauté until the garlic begins to turn golden. Add spinach, a dash of chilli powder, sea salt and pepper and cook for few minutes until the spinach is wilted.  For a change serve with a spritz of Balsamic vinegar and a few pine nuts. 

Steamed: Put cleaned spinach in a steamer over boiling water and stream until it wilts but not until its completely mushy.  Toss steamed spinach with olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and a little crushed garlic, then sprinkle with shaved parmesan and serve immediately.

Baked: Preheat oven to 175°C and grease a baking dish.  Clean spinach, remove excess water and chop.  Arrange spinach and flour in layers, nestle beaten eggs about midway between the layers.  Combine grated cheese, bread crumbs and fresh chopped parsley.  Sprinkle over top of spinach.  Mix olive oil, milk, sea salt and pepper.  Pour over all ingredients and bake in oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

The following link has a number of interesting recipes.

http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2010/06/pasta_with_tetragon_new_zealand_spinach.php