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May 17, 2013 / theyellowbungalowla

beautiful to look at…good to eat.

good enough to eat.

“Eat more greens” is a health mantra heard everywhere it seems. I remember when spinach used to be the “healthiest” thing you could eat, and we followed the health craze by adding it to our iceberg lettuce salads and stuffing it into spanakopita with chunks of salty feta. These days, kale is all the rage, seen on menus from coast to coast, translated into popular salads (kale caesar, anyone?), and whirled into smoothies by moms on a mission to get their kids to eat more greens. Along with kale came its cousins the collards and the chards; a delicious development, in my opinion, as a walk through the farmers market on any given week yields an array of gorgeous greens waiting to grace your table.

At the market this week, I came upon this gem: Vietnamese spinach. I was mesmerized by the tiny, pink flowers, intricate and mysterious, attached to the vibrant rhubarb-colored tendrils. Also called “Malabar” or “creeping” spinach, this variety can climb up a trellis and grows like a vine. Some of the tendrils were woven together – look closely at the right side of the arrangement – as though they are embracing in a hug. I couldn’t bear to separate them, so I arranged around the weaving.

I grabbed a bunch and carefully nestled it into the top of my bag, being careful not to crush any of the flowers. As I weaved through the market, I tangled myself with more than one market-goer as the long tendrils dangled from my canvas bag and ensnared anyone who go too close to me. Both the vine and the flowers are surprisingly hardier than one might expect. Luckily I made it back to the car with a minimal loss of leaves.

On the way back to the bungalow, I decided that edible art this beautiful could not go directly into the fridge, stuffed into the produce drawer out of sight. I wanted to look at it for at least a couple of days before eating it! I set out to find a vessel worthy of showcasing the long, winding vines and highlight the gorgeous pink flowers and deep red that characterized the stems. This white vase became my choice because it too is a little mysterious with all of those holes…are they meant to assist in building an arrangement, perhaps separating stems that hold large blooms? Or are the holes simply a design feature? The bright whiteness of the vase is a perfect contrast to the deep green and red hues, and the mottled texture is modern and pairs nicely with the vine.

If you happen upon a bunch of Vietnamese spinach or another beautiful green, I hope you too find a way to enjoy its beauty before eating it! For this arrangement, I stripped the leaves and flowers from the bottom of the vine before inserting in the vase. Stripping the vines made it easier to fill the vase and make it look fuller. Aside from that one step, I didn’t do much more in the way of arranging; instead, I allowed it to sort of “do its thing” so to speak, and this is how it turned out. I saved all of the flowers, leaves, and extra vines, and will do something delicious with them in the next couple of days, maybe a salad. So please check back in!

In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying this gorgeous arrangement all weekend long.

These are the leftover vines, leaves, & flowers...I will do something delicious with them in the next few days!

I saved the leftover vines, leaves, & flowers, and plan to create something delicious with them.

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