The silverbeet solution

We have lots of silverbeet and rainbow chard in our garden. It’s about the only thing we grew this winter, and I kind of forgot about using it until suddenly there was so much I was a bit overwhelmed by it!

I had in mind some kind of silverbeet tart or pie, so I went looking through my recipes books. Have you tried Eat Your Books? It’s the perfect solution for someone like me, with an embarrassingly large collection of cookbooks! It’s an online recipe index with not only the recipes indexed but the ingredients in each recipe too—you add all your recipe books, magazines, even blogs, to your library and then when you are looking for a recipe, you type in the ingredients or type of recipe you’re looking for and it tells you what recipes are in what books, and a list of ingredients required! It’s fantastic!!

In the end, though, I didn’t find quite what I was looking for, so I made it up as I went along. My recipe is loosely based on this recipe, but I have changed it a fair bit, most noticeably by adding lamb! I also added a spice blend from a local middle eastern supermarket. It’s a Lebanese blend of allspice, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, fennel, anise, nutmeg, mahlep and galangal, known as Seven Spices (I know, I know, there are 10!), and it just gave the pie filling a subtle boost of flavour without overwhelming it.

It ended up being a perfect meal, served with a green salad to add some crunch. And I think it would be just as nice with chicken instead of lamb.

Lamb and Silverbeet Parcels

Serves 6

2 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
500g lamb mince
1 large bunch of silverbeet or rainbow chard
300g ricotta cheese
100g feta cheese, crumbled
grated rind of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp Seven Spices blend or a similar middle eastern spice blend
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
6 sheets of puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten with a splash of water for the pastry wash

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Cut the silverbeet/chard leaves away from the stems. Slice the leaves into ribbons and finely chop the stems.

Fry the onion and garlic gently in about 1 Tbs olive oil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until soft and golden.

Add the mince and silverbeet stems and fry until the meat browns. Then add the silverbeet leaves handful by handful, allowing it to wilt between each addition.

Stir through the cheeses and the spice blend, then season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Finally stir the beaten egg through and allow to cool slightly.

Divide the mixture into 6 portions and place each portion in the middle of a square of puff pastry. Fold the corners over each parcel to fully enclose and brush with the egg wash.

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Serve immediately.


1. Filo pastry could be used instead of puff pastry. In that case, brush with olive oil or melted butter instead of the egg wash.


Magnificent meat pie!

I’ve been craving pie. Here in Australia, a special place is reserved for the meat pie, a classic concoction of pastry, mince and gravy sold at milk bars, bakeries and convenience stores, and most especially, at the footy. But the pie I’ve been craving is more than that. Melt in your mouth meat, thick rich tasty gravy, tender flaky pastry. I’m drooling just thinking about it!

I found some gravy beef on sale last week, a cheap cut of meat even cheaper. So I scoured my recipe collection for a worthy recipe. And I think I found it in Jamie Oliver’s tribute to last year’s Royal Wedding between Kate and Will, a delicious casserole of beef, beer, barley and herbs. He used beef shin, but I substituted the gravy beef I had, which worked fine. I think it would work with any slow-cooking friendly cut of beef—chuck steak, gravy beef, blade steak or shin.

I also substituted a different pastry to the suet pastry he used, replacing it with Maggie Beer’s sour cream pastry. It’s quick to make and results in the most beautiful light flaky pastry.

And the end result? Just as magnificent as I envisioned!

Magnificent meat pie

Adapted from Jamie’s Great Britain, by Jamie Oliver

Serves 8-10

2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs unsalted butter
3 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
3 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
3 bay leaves
3 red onions, chopped
1 kg gravy beef
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs tomato paste
440ml can of guinness
1.5 L homemade or good quality beef stock
2 Tbs plain flour
140g pearl barley
1 Tbs dijon mustard
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
100g cheddar cheese, grated 
Sour cream pastry (see recipe below)
1 egg yolk
2 tsp milk

Put olive oil, butter and herbs in large casserole pot over high heat. When butter has melted, add onions, meat and a large pinch of salt and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add tomato paste, Guinness, stock and flour, and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer over low heat for an hour, stirring occasionally.

Add the pearl barley, replace cover and cook for another hour, stirring occasionally. Then remove lid and turn up heat to medium low, and cook for a further 30 minutes, stirring frequently until meat is falling apart and gravy has thickened.

Preheat oven to 220C.

Stir in mustard, Worcestershire sauce and cheese. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Pour into large pie dish, approximately 25cm by 30 cm and 5 cm deep. Brush edges of dish with an egg wash made from egg yolk and milk whisked together with a pinch of salt.

Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface until it is about 5 mm thick and big enough to just fit over dish. Carefully place on top of pie. Pinch edges down and brush with egg wash.

Bake for about 30-40 minutes at 220C until pastry is golden. Serve with green veges and homemade chips.

Maggie Beer’s sour cream pastry

From Maggie’s Harvest, by Maggie Beer

200g cold unsalted butter, roughly chopped
250g plain flour
120g/125 ml sour cream

Put butter and flour into bowl of food processor and pulse briefly until mixture has texture of breadcrumbs.

Add sour cream and pulse again until mixture just comes together. Turn out onto board and press into a ball.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes until ready to use.


1. You can replace the pastry with store bought shortcrust or puff pastry if you don’t want to make your own.