The name "New Zealand spinach" emphasizes both its closeness to this other vegetable and its southern origins.
While indeed found in New Zealand, tetragon also grows in China, Chile and a number of Atlantic islands. Its arrival in Europe dates back to the late 18th century, when it was introduced by Captain Cook's mission returning from New Zealand. Its cultivation then spread throughout the Anglo-Saxon countries.
The plant's fruit forms an odd 4-pointed capsule, which is responsible for its "geometric" name.
Tetragon is an annual plant of the Alzoaceae family, whose fleshy, thick green leaves are edible. Note that botanically it is unrelated to spinach, which belongs to the spinaca family.
Tetragon is a remarkable vegetable. Rich in water and fiber, it is low in calories, making it an excellent diet food. It promotes intestinal regularity.
Its high vitamin C content contributes to good health; it also contains vitamins B1, B2, PP and minerals in significant amounts.
The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Its flavor is pleasant with a touch of bitterness, a slightly briny flavor and nice crunch.
Eaten raw, the small young leaves of the top of the plant are good in salads, to which they lend an original touch.
Cook tetragon like spinach by wilting in a little butter. It can then be served with fish or white meats or simply added to mashed potatoes for a delicious purée.
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