Look closely and you will see this plant everywhere! Warrigal greens, Tetragonia Tetragonoides, otherwise known as Botany Bay Spinach or New Zealand spinach, though considered a 'native' ingredient, is technically not. Warrigal is a word used on the east coast to mean 'wild' harvested as opposed to farmed and Warrigal greens were often eaten by settlers in Botany Bay as a green leaf vegetable. It is believed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people very rarely ate this plant.
However, with a high level of Vitamin C, this plant which is native to New Zealand and adopted as native to Australia, was eaten by Captain Cook's crew to fight off scurvy. Younger smaller leaves are less bitter than the larger older leaves. Due to the high levels of oxalic acid in this plant, it is advisable to eat Warrigal greens in moderation. After washing the leaves in the RiverMint Kitchen, we bash the plant with a rolling pin to release the acid, then cook in boiling water for two minutes. After immersing in iced water, the leaves are squeezed out and frozen for later use or chopped immediately for use in canapés and other dishes.
For a quick and easy canapé dish using warrigal greens that many can find for free in their back garden or through Tuckerbush, click here. This recipe uses the green in conjunction with Native Lemongrass which adds a unique and delicate flavour to chicken and coconut.