Fresh. Silverbeet aka Swiss chard.
SMH THE (SYDNEY) MAGAZINE Picture by JENNIFER SOO 
SMAG130322
Silverbeet has a deep earthy flavour and a wonderful bitter sweetness. Photo: Jennifer Soo

What 
Silverbeet, also known as Swiss chard, is part of the beet family, and its large bunches of bright-green, thick leaves are packed full of vitamins, fibre and goodness. In abundance now,silverbeet has a deep earthy flavour and a wonderful bitter sweetness. The plant is especially popular in Mediterranean cooking; both the leaf and juicy stalks can be utilised and are very versatile.

Choose 
Select bunches with large, glossy, deep-green leaves and chunky, white stems. They should look vibrant and healthy, and feel heavy and compact. Avoid bunches that have wilted, spotted or deteriorating leaves. 

Store 
Trim any damaged leaves, give the bunches a good rinse and gently shake dry. Store in your refrigerator in a plastic zip bag or in your vegetable crisper. Silverbeet will generally last up to five days if stored correctly.

Try 
Silverbeet is wonderful in the cooler autumn evenings with stews and casseroles. A lovely way to enjoy silverbeet is by plunging the chopped leaves and stalks into boiling salted water for a couple of minutes before draining and tossing in olive oil and lemon. Or simply shred and mix through salads. I also love silverbeet blanched in salted boiling water, drained and tossed with sesame oil, sliced garlic, green chilli and a touch of soy.

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SILVERBEET STALKS BRAISED WITH CHERRY TOMATOES AND CHILLI AND BASIL
A lot of people seem to discard these wonderful white stalks, but this recipe is a perfect way to use them. 

stalks from one bunch of silverbeet

1/4 cup olive oil

pinch salt flakes 

1 red onion, finely sliced 

3 cloves garlic, finely sliced

2 cups cherry tomatoes

1 large red chilli, finely sliced 

1/2 cup water 

1/2 bunch fresh basil, leaves torn

Trim stalks and lightly peel any fibrous exterior. Cut into chunky rectangular batons.

Heat a heavy-based saucepan or braising pot over a medium heat. Add olive oil, salt flakes, onion and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes until soft and aromatic, and before it begins to colour. Add stalks, tomatoes and chilli. Cook for another couple of minutes. Add water, cover with a lid and slowly cook for 20 minutes until soft, juicy and sweetly aromatic.

Fold through torn basil and serve.

Serves 2 large portions, or 4 as an accompaniment

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CANNELLONI OF SILVERBEET WITH BURNT BUTTER AND PARMESAN 
You will need a piping bag and food processor. Also, keep the stalks for the recipe at left.

1 bunch silverbeet 

120g unsalted butter

8 large instant cannelloni tubes
 
1 lemon, grated zest of half

1/4 cup raisins, chopped 

pinch salt

3/4 cup parmesan, freshly grated 

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 180°C. Wash silverbeet, drain well and trim leaves off stalks. Roughly chop leaves. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter and allow to bubble and cook until it turns a nut-brown colour. Remove from heat, cool slightly and strain butter, discarding dark sediment.

Blanch silverbeet in boiling salted water for 2 minutes until soft, run under cold water to stop cooking and drain well. Place in food processor and puree with half the burnt butter, lemon, raisins, salt and half the parmesan.

Scoop into your piping bag and pipe pureed mixture into cannelloni tubes.

Place filled tubes into an oven-proof dish, drizzle with remaining butter, sprinkle over breadcrumbs and remaining parmesan, place in oven and bake for 20 minutes until pasta is cooked, filling hot and cheese and breadcrumbs golden and crisp.

Serves 2 large portions, or 4 as an accompaniment