Silverbeet has missed out in the vegetable marketing department. It’s like the ugly stepsister of baby spinach. Don’t get me wrong, I love baby spinach in a salad, but when you want to feed a crowd on a budget and it has to be organic and in season, silverbeet is your new best friend. It just keeps coming back, season after season, and since the recent rain it is all plumped up and ready for action.
Spring onions are nature’s companion to silverbeet – they too seem to last forever if you just pick off a few outer leaves at a time. I have a patch which has travelled around the garden for years – every time I rearrange they get shunted along to a new bed where they soon recover and just keep growing. Similarly, if you have bought a bunch of spring onions and used just the tops, you can plant the bottoms and they will usually take off again. Now if I could just find a way to make cheese regenerate from a crust in the fridge I’d be set…
Spanakopita is where these star ingredients meet for dinner, and this quick, easy version is the perfect combination of fresh greens and wintry comfort food. Recipe serves 4.
- 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed (cover to prevent drying while thawing)
- 1 bunch silverbeet (about 12 large leaves)
- 1 small bunch spring onions, finely chopped
- 4 extra-large free range eggs
- 2 handfuls green herbs (I used Italian parsley and tarragon), finely chopped
- 250g (1 small tub) light ricotta
- 100g (half a block) fetta, crumbled
- 50g (a decent lump) parmesan, finely grated
- Half a lemon
- pinch of nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste
- dash of oil
- You will need 2 cooking bowls (one large and one medium/small) and a baking dish approx 25 x 15cm x 4cm deep.
- Put the kettle on to boil. (Do this at the beginning of everything)
- Pick silverbeet, spring onions and herbs. And collect eggs, if you can!
- Preheat oven to 220C.
- Rinse the greens if you haven’t had rain and check for snails in the folds of the leaves. Some find them too crunchy. Rip the silverbeet greenery off the stems (hold stem with one hand and whip it through the other. Drop the greens into a large heatproof bowl and the stems into the compost. Tear up the greens a bit to fit in the bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave until just wilted, then rinse in cold water, squeeze out most of the liquid and then squeeze the lemon over them. Set aside.
- While the silverbeet is wilting, mix together in the smaller bowl the eggs, green herbs and spring onions, cheeses, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
- Finely chop the squeezed-out silverbeet and stir into egg mixture.
- Lightly oil baking dish and line with one sheet of pastry (trim and patch pastry to fit). Pour in the egg mixture and cover loosely with the second sheet of pastry. Use a sharp knife to poke plenty of steam vents in the lid.
- Place dish in oven and bake for about 15 mins or until top starts to brown lightly, then turn down to 180C. Continue baking another 20-25 mins until filling is set (test with skewer or knife).
While it’s baking, if you don’t already have silverbeet growing, plant a patch of it! Fordhook giant is a good reliable variety, and then there’s rainbow chard, Swiss chard, ruby chard, European spinach, Warrigal greens, even beetroot tops… they will all work in this kind of recipe. Even baby spinach, if you must 😉