By Jo Rittey

Today in the supermarket I found myself embarrassingly in a daydream inspired by a bunch of silverbeet and had to be prompted to approach the checkout. Odd, you might say, and I thought so too. But I saw two young guys at the checkout and all they had was a bunch of silverbeet. Were they cooking it? Had their mums or partners requested the bunch? What were they going to do with it? Granted, not everyone is going to have that reaction, but I realised that I did because I have silverbeet baggage.


What on earth, you ask? Come on, we all have some sort of food baggage, whether it’s the much maligned brussel sprout, tapioca pudding or spam sandwiches. I am fairly confident in my assertion that there is a food out there for everyone that sends us into Edvard Munch scream pose. There’s even an emoji specially for it: Me: I just saw two guys buying a bunch of silverbeet. [scream emoji] Recipient of text: ???


I don’t want to blame my mother. She is an exemplary and wonderful woman. But I blame my mother. Goodness knows the endless meals she had to cook for us and the effort she put into making tasty and nutritious offerings. We just have differing views on palatable vegetables. Mum steamed or boiled a lot of our vegetables, apart from the incredible fan potatoes she served up on special occasions. They were amazing. She was right to boil and steam. They are healthy methods. But a boiled Brussel sprout is a far cry from the delights served up by the likes of Town Mouse or Embla and boiled silver beet. Well. [scream emoji]


But this is where I have to eat my fancy pants vegetable cooking hat because I did in fact, somewhat inextricably, planted silverbeet this year, largely because it is easy to grow and I am not naturally green-fingered and it has grown into the most beautiful red stalked leafy green prize. The way the sun shines through its stained glass window structure is something to behold. Clearly, though, it’s not a sculpture, I have to cook it. So I’ve done a bit of research and it turns out my old nemesis, silverbeet, or swiss chard or just plain old chard is way cooler than kale. Texturally and aesthetically, silver beet wins hands down. It is also a good source of vitamins A, C, B6 and K (important for helping your blood to clot). It also contains riboflavin and folate and minerals such as potassium (which helps to regulate blood pressure) and manganese (involved in the regulation of brain and nerve function). Herbalists have been raving on about the benefits of silverbeet for centuries, from cancer cures to toothaches.


So what am I going to do with it? I’ll maybe lightly sauté chopped leaves with olive oil, garlic and walnuts and a little squeeze of lemon juice. Or perhaps I’ll add it to a frittata or pasta or grab some feta and filo pastry and make spanakopita. Or, I might take a deep breath, steam it and than my mother for cooking healthy vegetables.



Jo has an exotic (kiwi) accent, loves good food and wine and has just a touch of the required culinary cynicism when it comes to the misuse of apostrophes and the hype over kale.


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