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Craig’s Tanier Spinach Recipes

Tanier spinach aka belembe or edible leaf elephant ear (xanthosoma brasiliense) is a shade tolerant herbaceous perennial.  It is a small version of the elephant ear plant, about the size of a taro, with which it is often confused, but it does not have the taro’s characteristic peltate leaf.  As a member of the Araceae family, it contains insoluble oxalates that form irritating crystals throughout all parts of the plant.  Some taro plants have low enough levels of oxalate crystals (usually in their corms) that they can be cooked and eaten.  Tanier spinach doesn’t have much of a corm, but the leaves can be eaten after cooking to destroy the oxalate crystals. Insufficiently cooked tanier spinach can cause itching and burning sensations in the mouth as well as other problems if you eat enough, which is unlikely because of the oral discomfort involved.

PLAIN BOILED TANIER SPINACH with oil and vinegar and salt

Tanier spinach leaves
Braggs apple cider vinegar
Unrefined coconut oil

Use only the leaf and upper stem.  The lower stem is tough. 
Chop the upper stem and some midrib as well into small pieces and put into a pan covered with cold water.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
While it’s simmering chop the leafy parts finely and add them to the pot.
Cook for another 10 minutes and then drain well.Once the water is drained, add oil, salt and vinegar to taste.


6 medium leaves with the upper stem (chopped and boiled as above)
1/2 pint of shiitake mushrooms
1/2 small onion (diced finely)
Garlic – 3 cloves, chopped finely
Olive oil

Heat olive oil over a low flame and saute shiitake mushrooms and onions until wilted.
Add the boiled tanier spinach, garlic, and salt. Be careful not to brown the garlic.
Cook it for a few minutes, then put the lid on the pan and steam it for a further 3-4 minutes.

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