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Also known as Swiss chard, silverbeet (Beta vulgaris) is a leafy vegetable related to the beet. Available in supermarkets in summer and early autumn, silverbeet is similar to spinach, and cooking it is similar. However, silverbeet, which has sturdier leaves and a sweeter flavor, isn't suitable for eating raw unless the leaves are very young. Some cooks prefer to discard the stems from mature leaves, but with a slightly longer cooking time, they are flavorful and tender.

Wash silverbeet by swishing the leaves in a bowl of water. Repeat two or three times until no grit remains, then drain the water and pat the leaves dry with a paper towel. Fold the leaves in half lengthwise, and use the tip of a sharp knife to remove the large stem in the center of each leaf. Leave the leaves whole or cut them into strips, depending on your preference. If the leaves are small and tender, keep the stems intact.

Steam silverbeet for a quick and nutritious side dish. Place a small amount of water in a saucepan. Put a steamer basket in the pan, then bring the water to a full boil. Put the silverbeet stems in the basket, then cover the pan, and steam for 3 minutes. Add the leaves to the basket and steam for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until the leaves are tender but still bright green. Drain the silverbeet, then drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and minced garlic. Alternatively, top the steamed silverbeet with slivered almonds, Parmesan cheese, or sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese.

Stir-fry silverbeet with garlic and seasonings. Heat a small mount of olive oil in a large skillet, then add chopped garlic and freshly ground black pepper. Saute until the garlic is slightly tender, then add the silverbeet stems. Let the stems cook for about a minute, then add the leaves and let the silverbeet cook for 2 to 3 more minutes, or until tender. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

Heat a small amount of water in a saucepan to boil silverbeet. Bring the water to boil with a small amount of lemon juice, minced garlic, olive oil and salt. Place the stems in the pan and simmer the stems, covered, for 3 minutes. Add the leaves and cook for an additional 4 to 5 minutes. Serve boiled silverbeet with butter and a small amount of wine vinegar or lemon juice.

Microwave moist silverbeet in a microwave-safe dish until the leaves are tender. Check the vegetable every 60 seconds, as cooking time depends on the size of the leaves, the amount of silverbeet and the power of your microwave oven. Overcooking may cause the silverbeet to dry out and scorch.

Tip

Place silverbeet in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Warning

Don't cook silverbeet in an aluminum cooking pot because the vegetable will react with the oxalates in the metal, causing the pot to change color.

About the Author

M.H. Dyer

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.