Silver beet is a leafy green vegetable often used in Mediterranean cooking that looks like spinach and belongs to the same plant family but with larger, coarser, milder tasting leaves. Silver beet is also commonly known as chard or Swiss chard, but can also be called perpetual spinach. Generally the silver beet leaves are cooked and eaten like spinach, while the stems may be cooked like celery.
Silver beet comes in a range of leaf and stem colours. The stalks of the silver beet can be several colours, varying between white, yellow, orange, red or pink, with some varieties with red stalks and red-black leaves also found, which can be known as Ruby Chard. Silver beet originates from Southern Europe around the coastal areas of Portugal, Spain and the Mediterranean islands
The plants are generally grown from seeds or seedlings and can be harvested while the leaves are young and tender. Silver beet should have fleshy stems, crisp dark-green leaves. When you choose silver beet, avoid any with wilted stems or leaves. Silver beet leaves are best stored in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag to keep them fresh.
Silver beet can be used in different ways. Fresh young silver beet can be used raw in salads. Both the stalks and leaves can be eaten although many cooks just use the leaves. The stalks can be chopped and added to stir-fries or stews. The leaves can be sautéed, pan fried or stir fried and when cooking the leaves ensure you use plenty as they cook down a lot once they are heated.
You can also find fresh silver beet at Adelaide Showground Farmers’ Market at the Patlin Gardens, W& B Hart and Virgara’s Garden stalls.