Spiced Coconut Spinach

The perfect simple, spinach side dish - toast a few spices, add a pile of shredded spinach to the skillet, and finish things off with a burst of lemon juice and some shredded coconut.

Spiced Coconut Spinach

This is a quick post for an easy, fast and spinach-packed side dish. It's the type of thing I get excited about - simple, but bold on flavor. Even better, all the ingredients come together in one pan. I stumbled on this recipe for Coconut-laced Spiced Spinach as I was flipping through Anjum Anand's book new book, in early 2011. Not much more than ten minutes later, we were sitting down to the table with it as part of our meal. I’ve cooked variations of in endlessly in the years since.
Coconut Spiced Spinach Recipe

Spiced Coconut Spinach: The Technique

The key here is having all your ingredients cleaned, prepped and ready to go. You toast a few spices, add a pile of shredded spinach to the skillet, and finish things off with a burst of lemon juice and golden-toasted coconut.
Coconut Spiced Spinach Recipe

A Few Ideas

I think I'm so excited about this in part because it is so versatile. While it makes a great side - I also like it in, on and under lots of things. Case in point, alongside one of these special quesadillas. It's also great on an open-faced veggie burger, in tacos, in a wrap, over brown rice or farro, etc. I also like to make a meal of it with some grilled tofu, paneer, or fried egg. Let me know if you end up making it, and what you do with it! 
Coconut Spiced Spinach Recipe

The Spice Profile & Variations

The cumin is really nice here, I’ve dialed it up over the years. My advice? Don't skimp. The same goes for the red pepper profile. I’ve added more over time, but it’s one of those things where you really just want to add it to your liking. I talk through some other ideas in this list of variations as well.

  • Add-ins: I often add other extra quick-cooking vegetables to the skillet along with my spinach. Segments of thin asparagus work well, as does small broccoli or cauliflower florets.
  • Herb It Up: If I have any fresh herbs on hand - chopped cilantro, basil, chives, and/or dill - adding them after the spinach has cooked is a nice way to experiment with the flavor profile.
  • Swap your chiles: Use a chopped serrano chile in place of the red chile flakes for a greener spiciness.
  • Burst of Ginger: Mince a small knob of peeled ginger along with the garlic-shallot paste if you love ginger.

Coconut Spiced Spinach Recipe

Cooking Spinach

The main thing to remember - resist the urge to overcook the spinach. You want to cook it just long enough for it to collapse, cook through, and brighten up. And keep in mind it continues to cook after you pull it from the heat.

Hope you like this as much as I do. And thank you Anjum for the inspiration - I'm really enjoying the Ayurvedic angle of this book.

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Spiced Coconut Spinach

5 from 1 vote

As I mention up above, this spinach makes a great side. I can also imagine it on an open-faced veggie burger, in a taco, in a wrap, etc. Or make a meal of it with some grilled tofu, paneer, or fried egg. You can easily make this vegan by using oil instead of ghee/butter.

  • 1 shallot
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon ghee, clarified butter, or sunflower oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup finely sliced asparagus, optional
  • 8 oz / 225g freshly chopped spinach, well washed, stems trimmed
  • squeeze of lemon plus zest
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened wide-strip coconut, lightly toasted
  1. Place the shallot and garlic on a cutting board, sprinkle with the salt, and chop/mash everything into a paste.
  2. Heat the oil in your largest skillet over medium heat. Add the seeds and let them toast a bit. Stir in the red pepper flakes and let cook for a minute. Stir in the asparagus if you're using it, let cook roughly another minute, then stir in the garlic-shallot paste and all of the spinach. Keep stirring until the spinach starts collapsing a bit, and brightens up - barely any time at all - perhaps a minute.
  3. Finish with a bit of fresh lemon juice and the coconut.

Serves 2-3.

Inspired and adapted from the Coconut-laced Spiced Spinach recipe in Anjum Anand's Eat Right for your Body Type: The Super-Healthy Detox Diet Inspired by Ayurveda.

Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

Post Your Comment


Yum. We used to make a similar dish at a restaurant I once worked at. But it was more south east asian inspired with ground roasted rice in it too. That book sounds amazing! It's going to be added to my out-of-control Amazon wish-list!


This looks fantastic! We've been picking spinach and asparagus daily here and I'm running out of ideas. Thanks for this!


I love the photo of the hands. Beautiful action photo! I have not been brave enough to venture there.

Honestly Good Food

Great combination, I've never thought of that before. Sounds & looks delicious!


I love the greens + coconut combination - recently made coconut milk-braised mustard greens with curry and it was delicious. Your version seems lighter for spring and so perfect for all the tender green leafies at the greenmarkets right now!


Looks yummy. I don't have any spinach just now, but I'm thinking about trying it with the red chard and/or braising greens I have in the fridge...


Why not use coconut oil in place of the ghee for more coconuty goodness? HS: Great idea Jennifer!

Jennifer Jo

I'm finally contributing to the food blog community after years (literally) of lurking. Thanks for being one of the pathfinders! Spinach and coconut look so savory together. This could also be really good with potatoes as a baked samosa stuffing. Another variation to try (very South Indian) is finely chopped green cabbage with coconut and turmeric. No one expects it to go together, so you have the fun of telling your friends there's coconut in an unexpected place. HS: Love these ideas.

domestic bedouin

First, thanks for the vegan option (sunflower oil)! Second, this looks like my kind of breakfast! I love a savory breakfast filled with greens!

JL goes Vegan

typical south indian dish. this is how every day we make our sides for rice or chapathi.


Hi Heidi--I'm curious, looking at the title of the book, and since you commented on the ayurvedic slant---is this recipe specified for any one ayurvedic body type? I'd be interested to know.


I have such a hard time with spinach because people always cook it into a soggy ball. I like that you made it into a sort of chiffonade and then just kissed it with heat. I'll definitely try it this way next time.

Georgia Pellegrini

this sounds like spinach that has been properly kicked up the bum! yummy! as much as i truly adore asparagus ill be leaving it out for fear that the dish gets confusing. lovely photos as well.


yum! this is a very typical south indian style of preparing vegetables. try it with thinly sliced green beans, it is spectacular! it also works well with carrots, beets, cabbage, chayote squash, pumpkin....the list goes on and on! instead of chili flakes, i tend to break a dried arbol chili in half and add it to the ghee/cumin/mustard seed mixture (called TADKA), and then throw in the veg and then the coconut. it's great with rice, or chapati!


Hey, we've got some shallots unaccounted for here...could you clarify? Looks amazing.


This is a very interesting twist to greens....I should try that tonight with the swiss chard I got from the farmers market. I have made spinach very often with this spice combination and potatoes or beans but without the coconut. The combination of spices you used also works great with crunchy shredded cabbage with a few curry leaves thrown in at the beginning and toasted peanuts and minced cilantro leaves tossed in at the end. You can also add peas/favas or cooked split lentils to this.


I added cooked soba noodle and tossed the all thing together. Delicious!


I've just received both your cookbooks from Amazon this week after following your blog for about a year. I LOVE them and am so excited about trying out the recipes. They are so well written, beautifully photographed and your enthusiasm and love of good, healthy food comes across loud and clear. My husband and I love having non-veggie friends round and serving them up interesting and tasty veggie food.. It's going to get even better now! Thank you Heidi!

Janette Kidd

This sounds amazing! I love the title too. Great recipe.


Great recipe! Thanks for sharing. This is reminiscent of a Sri Lankan dish which uses lacinato kale instead of the spinach. Add home-made coconut sambal for a little extra kick.


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