ANOTHER week, my fellow Khokies. How has it been for you?
Me? Well, it’s been a week trying out recipes that include pasta, spud and spinach, or its substitute because the green veggie is not readily available in the city market nor in the fresh goods section of the grocery store.
Many recipes suggest malabar spinach as a good substitute for true spinach. Oh, malabar sounds like another difficult to find vegetable, doesn’t it? Cry no more. It’s our pet, green veggie, the humble alugbati.
Although alugbati bears the I.D. spinach, it is not a relative of true spinach (Spinacia oleracea). Basella alba is not my neighbor’s name, but is the scientific name of alugbati, a climbing leafy green that is versatile. It can be added to soups, scrambled eggs and even pasta.
Since July 16 is Fresh Spinach Day, let us dedicate our tiny space to Basella!
SALAD. I have never tried spinach salad, not even a bowl using malabar.
Story twist: Order true spinach online, my dear Khokies, if you want. I think Baguio now grows this leafy green to ship to courier services.
I like a variety of salads but still have to try spinach salad. In my quest to try this salad, I found a bowlful of recipes online that made me conclude it’s a creative dish.
You can add to the bowl a combination of any of these ingredients: lettuce, sliced apple, feta or goat cheese (kiseo), almonds, tomatoes, cucumber, sliced boiled eggs or salted eggs, bacö, sliced roasted chicken, olives—the list goes on and on.
As for the dressing, I found one for vinaigrette: olive oil, minced garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, honey or sweetener of choice, and Dijon mustard but skip it if you hate the taste.
VERDICT. How was it? I’d like to try one with true spinach.
This is not to say it was bad. In fact, it was a revelation, and definitely an acquired taste. My salad consisted of lettuce, alugbati, semi-ripe mango, salted egg, tomato, kiseo and cucumber because that was what I had on hand.
CAN EAT IT AGAIN. The salad had a deep leafy twang owing to the alugbati. If I regularly eat this salad, I hope I can learn to enjoy it so I can add it to my “List of Likes.” Some people who abhor malabar will never touch this salad with a 10-foot pole!
TORTA. Maybe alugbati haters can practice with alugbati torta. Recipe: Beat five large eggs, season with salt and white pepper. Pour half on an oiled flat pan. When eggs start to set, add alugbati and cover to steam.
When alugbati starts to wilt, add grated cheese and the rest of the beaten eggs. Flip the torta to the other side when the top is set to brown it a little. Serve warm.