Story: Gerry Jacobson (Canberra Organic - Spring 2018)
Copyright Can StockPhoto LeuKr

“Eat yer vegies!” How the ancestral voices echo. Most of us call it ‘spinach’ but it’s really ‘silverbeet’, and it’s also known as ‘swiss chard’ in some overseas cookbooks. It’s related to beetroot, whereas true ‘english’ spinach is something different.

Silverbeet grows well for me at the BC garden, re-seeds annually. There’s been some problem recently with spots of a rusty looking thing, maybe a fungus. I should try and rotate the crops properly, but I’m lazy. I also grow other green vegetables: senposai, pak choy, spinach, kale. Every week I make a huge pot of Green Earth Soup, and silverbeet is the mainstay. But we’re not doctrinaire vegetarian at Hill Corner. We like our fibrous vegies but we do eat lean meat, maybe once or twice a week.

My favourite cookbook is Australian (Raw Materials by Meryl Constance,
1994, Sydney Morning Herald Books) and arranged by vegetables, A to Z, so it goes Artichokes to Zucchini. It’s a good starting point for any particular vegetable in season, or in glut.

I’ll share what I call the ‘African Silverbeet Dish’, a family favourite adapted from this cookbook, and an excellent winter meal.

African Silverbeet Dish

2 onions
2 small chillies
3 cloves garlic
600g chuck steak or gravy beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
125 ml beef stock
1 bunch silverbeet
425 g tin tomatoes
100g peanut butter
Salt and pepper

Peel and slice onions.
Seed and finely chop chillies.
Heat oil, brown the meat, sauté onions, chillies and garlic, add beef stock, simmer one hour.
Remove thicker stalks from silverbeet, slice leaves into ribbons, wash and drain.
After one hour cooking, add tomatoes and peanut butter to the pot, stir in. Add the silverbeet gradually and uncover the pot perhaps as it cooks down, until mixture has a sauce consistency.
Adjust seasoning, serve with rice. And perhaps also with red wine, say a cabernet blend.