|You might want to get your laughing gear around some of that UHG|
I have been growing and chomping New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia Tetragonoides) for years, but silly me has only recently got into savouring one of its close cousins, dune spinach (*Tetragonia Decumbens). It grows on the sandy parts of the coast from Southern Namibia to the Eastern Cape. It’s crazy, yet typical of the global world we live in, that I should know about the foreign variety before my local one; the one I pass nearly every time I skip down to the water’s edge for surf.
|Dune spinach (Tetragonia Decumbes), New Zealand spinach's first cousin UHG|
No doubt the ‘real’ Hunter Gatherers of millennia gone by, the indigenous people living on the southern tip of Africa were munching dune spinach, as did the early colonialists. In more recent times it has been replaced by the conventional greens we see in the supermarkets… eventually it became all but forgotten. Nowadays, due to the foraging trend and a greater public environmental consciousness, our good old dune spinach is making a bit of a come back.
|A free bowl of goodness UHG|
People like fellow forager and wild food innovator, Loubie Rusch has been on a mission. Her pilot food garden, The Peace Garden, situated on the bleak and sandy Cape Flats (where not many common edible plants grow) is part of her drive to get more people eating indigenous foods. This makes complete sense! Because, apart from reducing food miles and therefore the carbon footprint, local plants such as dune spinach are water wise, pest resistant and don’t need fertilisers.
|Remember to wash the dune spinach thoroughly, unless you like it full of grit UHG|
It is pleasing that more and more people know about it. I have even seen bags of it for sale at a trendy Cape Town food market. Ironically, no more than fifty meters from that same market, is where I forage most of my personal supply, but don’t tell anybody though… it’s our little secret.
Dune spinach is vital for stabilising the sand dunes, so when foraging it is important not to uproot any plants, so stick to picking just the tips and leaves.
|Delectable winter treats right on our doorstep UHG|
*Plants are not like us humans, they like to have their surnames put first.
Here is a little SPANAKOPITA recipe to get you going
INGREDIENTS (4 servings)
2 double handfuls of spinach leaves (in this case dune spinach)
1 onion chopped
1 grating of nutmeg
1 sprig of chopped herbs (in this case wild sage, oregano is good too)
200g of ricotta or feta (in this case ‘fake feta’)
4 sheets of phyllo pastry cut in half
50g melted butter or 50ml of olive oil
A glug of olive oil for frying
1 salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
In a large frying pan on medium heat, fry the onions until soft. Add the herbs, nutmeg and spinach. Place a lid on the mix, while turning occasionally until the spinach is wilted and dramatically reduced in size. Allow to cool.
Once cooled, squeeze out excess fluids (I do this in the pan angled over the sink by pressing the spinach with the back of a large serving spoon). Now thoroughly mix in the cheese and egg. Season with salt and pepper (if you are using feta, be careful with the salt, because dune spinach is salty too). Your filling is now done… scoop it into an appropriate sized baking dish and lightly flatten.
Cut four sheets of phyllo pastry in half and brush with melted butter/olive oil. Loosely crunch each greased pastry sheet and place on top of the spinach mix in the baking dish… repeat until the dish is covered in phyllo pastry. Pop into the oven and bake until the pastry is golden, about half an hour.
Chomp and enjoy.
Chomp and enjoy.
|What you'll need. I made a double portion, which explains two eggs, not one UHG|
|A simple homemade cheese in the making UHG|
|The curds ready for a little session in an improvised press UHG|
|And there it is… UHG|
|The egg binds the spinach mix together UHG|
|Keeping in the Greek vibe, I brushed this one phyllo sheets with olive oil UHG|
|Loosely place greased phyllo sheets like wet rags on the spinach mix UHG|
|I was rather pleased with that little creation Nic Good|
For more about Loubie please refer to her blog makingkos.blogspot.com/