Talinum grew profusely in my grandmother’s garden a long time ago. I found potted talinum at the Manila Seedling Bank, grew the plant at home and we’ve been harvesting the leaves — for food.
Yeah, we’re not just growing herbs these days, we’re growing vegetables too. And that’s in addition to the fruit trees (mango, tamarind, lemon, lime, kaffir lime and ponkan) that are wonderfully thriving in our garden.
But before I get carried away with stories about fruit trees, let me tell you about talinum. The full name is Talinum fruticosum. According to the USDA website, its common English names include Philippine spinach, Surinam-purslane and waterleaf. In France, it is known as grassé, grand pourpier, grassé grand pourpier and pourpier tropical. In Portugal, it is beldroega graúda or lustrosa grande. In Spain, it is called espinaca de Filipinas, espinaca de Java, espinaca de Surinam and verdolago francés.
Talinum has no strong taste nor smell. The small tender leaves of the talinum can be eaten as a raw salad vegetable. The larger and more mature leaves can be cooked (I’ll show you a cooked talinum dish later).
To make this very simple cucumber and talinum salad, just toss together some diced cucumbers (scrape off the seeds to prevent the salad from turning watery), small tender talinum leaves, lemon juice, olive oil, a little salt and pepper. Serve as a starter course or with a fried or grilled dish as an accompaniment.