Simply silverbeet (+recipes)

By Grant Allen

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Silverbeet is tasty and versatile, and very under-used.

Three ways with silverbeet: sauteed with currants, orange and chilli; with leek. Photo / Janna Dixon
Three ways with silverbeet: sauteed with currants, orange and chilli; with leek. Photo / Janna Dixon

I'm always amused when people start going on about how easy it is to grow your own food. Silverbeet is usually the first vegetable mentioned. Yes, silverbeet is easy to grow, but, if you're like me, much of it ends up going to seed or compost. I should plant less.

I do like silverbeet and do use it, but tend to fall back on it as a token green. I'm not sure why. It's a good tasting, versatile veg, and unlike spinach you don't need to cook piles of it to get a portion, but it seems to be treated as a poor cousin.

For some people it is a complete anathema; that is probably due to their first experience of it as an over boiled, khaki-coloured offering. Give it another go.

Silverbeet should be well washed after picking by giving it a good soak in cold water. Drain it and tear the leaves from the white stem. Don't throw the stems out, slice them finely and cook these before adding the leaves.

3 Ways to Cook Silverbeet

1. The simplest is to just sweat it in butter or oil or a mix of both. Start with the sliced stems, gently cooking these till tender, then add the torn leaves.

Season well and toss until the leaves have well wilted. Do not cover the pan or you will loose the beautiful dark green colour.

2. Mix it with other greens. You could use leeks, sliced broccoli, beans, sorrel, some fresh herbs.

Proceed as above starting with whatever will take longest to cook, in this case the leeks.
Season well and to sharpen it up add a squeeze of lemon.

3. Soak some currants in lemon or orange juice to plump up.

Heat some oil in a pan and quickly heat some fresh or dried chilli (just a little).

Toss in the torn silverbeet leaves and the plumped currants and gently cook.
Add some nuts (pine nuts are good), season and serve.

* Grant Allen, a former restaurateur, runs an Auckland bespoke catering service called COOK. Visit Grant's Facebook page here.

- Herald on Sunday

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