Silverbeet

Silverbeet has green savoyed (crinkled) leaves with white veins and broad white stems and a slightly bitter taste.  Fresh young leaves can be used raw in salads.  Mature leaves and stalks are typically cooked so their bitterness fades.  Silverbeet is a good source of vitamins A, C and E, and folate.

Storage: Keep silverbeet in a plastic bag in the fridge.

General Use: Before using wash silverbeet thoroughly.  Place silverbeet in a sink full of water, swish it around, and wait a few minutes so any dirt will settle to the bottom. Remove the leaves, drain the sink and refill it and repeat the process.  The stems can be stripped off and cooked like asparagus.  Alternatively both the stems and leaves can be used together, the stems take longer to cook so add the leaves 3-4 minutes after the stems.  Silverbeet suits quick cooking methods like stir-frying and steaming.

Steamed: Steam sliced silverbeet for a few minutes until it wilts.  Drain well and season to taste with sea salt and ground pepper.  Place in oven proof dish, top with finely chopped tomato and grated cheese.  Grill until cheese is bubbly and browned.

Sautéed: Cut stalks off where they meet the leaf.  Heat olive oil, add crushed garlic, cook until golden.  Add stalks and cook for a few minutes.  Add the leaves and cook until wilted.

Fried: Add chopped silverbeet to cooked potatoes in a hot frying pan.  Add two beaten eggs and scatter sliced ham over to make a tasty frittata.

Edible Wrapper: Use silverbeet as an edible wrapper to steam fish, or use it like vine leaves stuffed with minced meat, rice and vegetables.

Braised: If you have the stalks left over try this.  Chop the stalks into 1cm pieces across. Sweat sliced onion in olive oil until soft, then add stalks, sliced garlic and cook 2 minutes.  Add a tin of crushed tomatoes, fresh chopped thyme, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes until tender but still crunchy.  Add chopped parsley, sea salt and pepper to taste.

Boiled: Add chopped silverbeet leaves to pasta water during the last few minutes of cooking.  Drain with pasta and add a tomato sauce and a can of tuna.