We have only been introduced to Silverbeet/Chard less than 10 years ago when we moved to Australia. Before that, have never even heard about or seen them before. First taste we had, it was ‘different’. It would have been perfect if we fell in love with it immediately as it was so easy to grow, even for someone with a brown thumb like me 😛
Then we discovered it also comes in rainbow colours so we gave it another go, perhaps it’ll taste better with colours. Somehow in the recent few years, we have now acquired the taste for it. And it is a great substitute for spinach.
I have a friend who ‘supplies’ me fresh silverbeet whenever her harvest is more than she can consume. And my own plants are also producing lots now. So what do I do with so much good stuff? We stir fry them, boil them, toss them in salads. If we still have lots that can’t fit into the fridge, I chopped them up and blanch them to be frozen. Then I use them like frozen spinach. Here’s one recipe that I’ve adapted that I’ve made twice in as many weeks recently and the whole family loved it even though it’s vegetarian…the boys claim they are ‘meat-arians’ but they unknowingly love veges 🙂 I’ve tried it with Colby as well as Feta cheese. With Colby cheese, most of it stick together and it is stringy but less salty. Experiment and see which one you prefer. It’s a really easy recipe with a large proportion of the time taken to ‘de-bug’!
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
3 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
100g feta cheese, cubed (unless you have access to Indian cheese – paneer)
15 – 20 large leaves of silverbeet, finely sliced and boiled
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
1 (1-inch thumb) ginger, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon) or 1/2 tsp ginger powder
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large green serrano chile, finely chopped (seeds removed if you don’t like it spicy!) (optional)
1/2 teaspoon garam masala (or just add some cinnamon, cloves and cardamon)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
In a large bowl, whisk together the turmeric, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt and 3 tablespoons oil. Gently, drop in the cubes of cheese and gently toss, taking care not to break the cubes. Let the cubes marinate while you get the rest of your ingredients together and prepped.
Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil to the pan. Add the onions, ginger, garlic and chile. Now here’s the important part: saute the mixture until it’s evenly toffee-coloured, which should take about 15 minutes. Don’t skip this step – this is the foundation of the dish! If you feel like the mixture is drying out and burning, add a couple of tablespoons of water.
Add the garam masala, coriander and cumin. If you haven’t already, sprinkle a little water to keep the spices from burning. Cook, stirring often, until the raw scent of the spices cook out, and it all smells fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the spinach and stir well, incorporating the spiced onion mixture into the spinach. Add a little salt and 1/2 cup of water, stir, and cook about 5 minutes with the lid off.
Turn the heat off. Add the marinated cheese and stir well. Serve.
Recipe adapted from Food Network Recipes by Aarti Sequeira – Saag Paneer: Spinach with Indian Cheese