Garden gluts: Silverbeet aka Swiss Chard
Beware when you’re sowing seeds. Especially if, as happened to us, you’ve ordered them from the Irish Seed Savers Association or Brown Envelope Seeds and every single last one of the seeds sprout forth.
We planted way too many in March, didn’t thin the seedlings enough, and now have copious amounts of kale, purple sprouting broccoli and leeks for later in the season so I’m keeping my eye out for recipes for those (will definitely have to check out some of Sarah‘s ideas for the broccoli!). The squash is trying to escape from the confines of our rabbit-proof fenced veggie garden while I try to figure out what to do with armloads of silverbeet.
Silverbeet, better known as Swiss chard in this hemisphere, is like a larger and more handsome version of spinach. We grow the rainbow variety, which has red, orange and yellow as well as white stalks. Some recipes call just for the stalks, others for the deep green leaves. You can combine the two but you need to ensure that the stalks cooked for longer. Silverbeet is found in every garden and supermarket in New Zealand. Despite the fact that it’s proven really easy to grow here, happily thriving amidst all this summer’s rain, it has been difficult to track it down in Ireland.
The Husband was brought up on and loves silverbeet but it’s been more of a slow getting-to-know-you for me. New Zealand’s Cuisine magazine has proved a good source of recipes as have seasonal cookbooks like Sarah Raven‘s Garden Cookbook and Growers Market by Leanne Kitchen. Stephanie Alexander‘s books – both Kitchen Garden Cooking with Kids and her Cook’s Companion, a very welcome wedding gift! – also have some great ideas and Heidi‘s recipe from Super Natural Cooking which incorporates fried, crusted butter beans with silverbeet is a real winner. Instead of Spanakopita this weather we’re making Silverbeet Pie, a successful way of introducing this vegetable to people who have never tasted it before. Anyone out there got any more ideas? I’m always looking to try out new ways of using it, especially as we can’t seem to make a dent on the supply at all.