I have a real soft spot for silverbeet. I know that’s an odd confession, but I love this reliable, old-fashioned and under-rated leafy green.
It’s not as trendy as spinach (which to me is a ring-in from somewhere else – Britain? America? Though don’t ask me to substantiate that!). It’s not as lauded as broccoli, say, for its super-food antioxidant life-giving nutritional properties.
No, silverbeet is that quiet achiever, growing in the garden just about all year round; just half a dozen plants reliably supply me with all I need. Mine looks pretty smart, too, with its brightly coloured stems: some ruby-pink, some lettuce-y green – I don’t actually have any at the moment that is the plain white variety. The dark and gently puckered leaves wave about like flags, and in their neat row they are like disciplined sentinels imposing order and standing guard at the edge of my vegie patch.
And silverbeet’s robust flavour reminds me of my childhood. We must have eaten it regularly, and maybe that’s why I have such affection for growing and eating it myself.
My favourite way to eat silverbeet now is to chop it finely, stalks and all (mine are fairly tender) and then steam it. Then I drain it well, perhaps chop it up some more, and stir it into a hot pan of golden onion, garlic and olive oil, making sure there is just enough oil to ensure the silverbeet is glistening nicely, but not too gluggy.
I might heap this onto a chewy, thick slice of ciabatta bread or toast, or serve it with a soft-boiled egg on top, or fold it though some rollini pasta (fusilli would work nicely too). Sometimes I steam green beans with the silverbeet, too, or broccoli. Or some tinned chickpeas, which lend a nutty, sturdy contrast to the silky darkness of the silverbeet. Or i might stir thru some good quality tinned tuna if I’m feeling really fancy. But mostly I love the silverbeet by itself.
How do you like your silverbeet?