Comely, robust silverbeet serves Janice Marriott extremely well.
I love to grow silverbeet in the winter garden because it's hardy and uncomplaining, but also bright and beautiful, with leaves shiny as raincoats.
Now is a good time to plant it. The standard silverbeet with white stems is called Ford Hook Giant. It's reliable and has been grown all over the country for generations. But the newer variety, Rainbow Lights, is irresistible because of the multi-coloured stems. From one packet of seeds you'll get yellow, gold, pink and crimson stems and you might also end up with pink and white striped, orange, scarlet, purple, white or green stems. They won't look that colourful after they'd been cooked - blanch quickly then coat with garlicky olive oil - but they look almost cheeky in the cold garden. Eat silverbeet as salad leaves, too, if you pick them just three weeks after planting.
Try cooking silverbeet in cream and adding parmesan cheese, or use the big leaves as wraps for a dolma-style stuffing. Just cut the stalk out, blanch the leaves, lay the filling on the leaf, and roll it up. Put the rolls in a buttered dish and bake.By Janice Marriott