Friday, 2 November 2012

Swiss Chard with Garlic, Butter and Lemon

Each time I venture into the garden and catch sight of forest of silverbeet I feel a pang of guilt. It’s got away on me. I blame the rain. The wet weather has made it flourish excessively.

My partner is the gardener, I am the harvester. I have happily picked his tomatoes, and lettuce leaves but I have been ignoring the silverbeet. Unfortunately there are a lot of large and rather coarse leaves now.

Who doesn’t have childhood memories of silverbeet cooked into a watery mush. “Eat up,” admonished our mothers. It’s good for you,” It’s true, it is a nutritional powerhouse which contains vitamins C, A, K, beta carotene and iron. It’s also very low in calories which is another good reason to get over a childhood aversion.

Silverbeet  marries well with Asian flavours. Joyce from IE produce, my local organic veggie shop stir fries it in a little oil with some garlic  and when it is done adds a few drops of sesame oil. This helps to cut the bitter taste and gives it a warm nutty flavour.

In Italian cuisine silverbeet is known as Swiss chard.

A well known Italian chef, Antonio Carluccio in his” Invitation to Italian cooking,” has a simple recipe for cooking swiss chard with butter. Whenever he can he tries to avoid cooking vegetables in plenty of water and then draining it as many cooks do. Too many valuable vitamins have gone down the sink this way.

Instead he melts some butter in a frying pan, adds the roughly shredded chard, stirs it around, pours in a little stock, then covers and simmers till tender. This way the vitamins are retained.

Inspired by this recipe I thought that garlic and lemon juice would further enhance it. And being calorie conscious I’m less lavish with the butter. Before cooking be sure to wash the silverbeet well in the sink, to get rid of any insects which like to crawl over the leaves.

Swiss Chard with Garlic, Butter and Lemon.

500 gm of silverbeet ( including the stalks) sliced
2 tablespoons of butter
2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
100 ml of water or stock (vegetable or chicken)
The juice of half a lemon
Pepper and salt to taste

Heat the butter in a frying pan. Add the finely chopped garlic and fry gently for about a minute.
Add the sliced silverbeet.
When the silverbeet is well coated with the garlicky butter pour in 100 ml of water or stock.
Cover the pan and let it simmer for about 7 minutes or until the silverbeet is tender.
If there is too much liquid in the pot take the lid off and continue to cook for a little longer until most of it evaporates. It should still be fairly moist but not soupy.
Grind over some black pepper before serving.

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