First of all, if you ever have a mystery plant I suggest going to DavesGarden.com. They have a plant ID discussion board. I had an answer to mine within 10 minutes!
So my mystery variety of "spinach" that was sold to me at the farmer's market:
Over a month ago all yellow and dying:
Doing better about 3 weeks ago:
Taking off about 10 days ago:
Completely flourishing this week:
Detail of the leaves:
It turns out this plant is indeed (kind of) a spinach plant. It goes by many names including: climbing spinach, creeping spinach, Malabar spinach, Ceylon spinach, Phooi leaf, and Indian spinach. I really don't know which name is the most common since they all come up with several hits when googled. Despite all but one of the common names having the word spinach in it, this plant is actually not related to the spinach that Popeye eats. It is closer to a succulent - which makes sense since the leaves are very thick and rubbery in texture. It tastes a whole lot like spinach and is often used in cooking just like spinach, hence the name. It is a perennial so I will be seeing it again next year.
I'm glad to have that mystery solved, and thankful to the people on the Dave's Garden plant ID board for helping me out.
I am excited that the plant is indeed (kind of) a variety of spinach since I use spinach a lot in salads and for cooking. Googling around, I have learned that it is commonly used in asian stir fries. I like the sound of Phooi leaf so I may call it that from here on out since it sounds a whole lot more exotic than "creeping spinach".
Anyone care for a Phooi leaf salad?