Silverbeet- or Swiss chard, strawberry spinach, sea kale beet- whatever name you call it by, this leafy green that originated in the Mediterranean is packed with vitamins, minerals, and taste. It is often left to wallow on the shelf while neighbourly kale and spinach are whisked into grocery baskets, but pause before you pass it by: you can easily substitute silverbeet for other thick leafy greens in your go-to recipes. It also happens to be high in antioxidants, aids in digestion, and supports nerve and muscle function.
Silverbeet is incredibly versatile, prepared solo or mixed through a variety of other dishes. It is at its best sautéed or braised, since the stalks can be bitter without the heat treatment due to naturally present oxalic acids, and our bodies better absorb hearty greens once cooked and served with a good dose of healthy fats.
I like to up the green intake in whatever meals we enjoy, and stirring buttery braised silverbeet into slow cooked polenta is a perfect example. Taking the greens and polenta mix, then cooling it, chopping it into wedges, and rebaking them, turns it into something not only nutritious, but also delicious. Baked Silverbeet & Polenta Fries are even better when dipped into a jammy late season tomato chutney or garlic aioli- really, really good.
•about 300g Silverbeet, stems finely diced and separated from the finely chopped greens
•1 large Onion, finely diced
•3 cloves Garlic, minced
•3 tablespoons Ghee or Coconut Oil, plus a bit extra for brushing on fries
•290g of Fine Polenta
•2 teaspoon Sea Salt
•1 litres of Water
The How To:
Heat a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Melt ghee or oil, then add onion and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and the stems of the silverbeet, and cook for another 4 minutes, before adding in the greens. Cook, stirring occasionally, for a few more minutes, until greens are wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.
Bring the pot of water with sea salt to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium and, using a whisk to incorporate it, slowly rain in the polenta. Whisk constantly, working carefully, as the hot polenta has a tendency to ‘spit’. Once all the polenta has been emptied into the pot, stir frequently over low heat for about 20 minutes. Expect an arm workout here, but it'll help you work up an appetite. Add in the silverbeet and stir to evenly combine.
Pour into a prepared rectangular baking dish and allow to cool and set.
Once cooled, preheat oven to 200•. Cut polenta into user-friendly rectangles. Set on a baking tray and brush with oil or ghee. Bake for 45 minutes, turning the polenta fries halfway through the baking time. Serve hot and with delicious dipping options.
In the same manner you're able to use silverbeet in place of spinach, you can certainly do the reverse and use whatever dark leafy green you have on hand- kale, spinach, et cetera.
Created by Elena Keir of Naked Cakes and Wholefoods