Brazilian Spinach – Alternanthera sissoo
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Brazilian spinach, also known as Sissoo spinach, Sambu or Samba lettuce, is a tropical edible groundcover used as a leaf vegetable.
Brazilian spinach is a vigorous groundcover about 30 cm high with crinkly leaves, rooting at the nodes. It does not set viable seed and is not considered invasive. It prefers 50% or more shade and tolerates a wide range of pH soil conditions, though it needs a high amount of nitrogen, organic matter and water. Plants are prone to leaf-eating caterpillar pests and slugs. It can be planted as a living mulch under fruit trees.
The leaves are crunchy, slightly more so than the temperate climate spinach, and not slimy. Some cultivars are slightly bitter. They require steaming or boiling when eaten in large quantities because of the presence of oxalates. It is eaten alone as a green or added to other dishes as a spinach substitute. Reportedly, Brazilians usually eat it raw in salads with oil and or vinegar, tomato, and onion, although the literature recommends cooking it. Can be added to quiches, pies, curries, dals, pasta sauces, lasagna or added to dishes and stir-fries late in the cooking process as a spinach substitute and to add a nutty flavour.