How to plant some unusual brassicas and cook with silverbeet
Hello and welcome to Organic Edible Garden and Kitchen. Here we are in front of our silverbeet bed. It’s a really easy crop to grow and is winter-hardy. These are some really lush-looking silverbeet leaves Rob’s grown. I’m really looking forward to using them in my winter-warming dahl which I’m going to serve alongside a fermented lentil pancake. Later on, Nellie will be joining me to tell us the benefits of silverbeet. And this week I’m going to plant vegetables that not everybody knows about. I’m going to put in some collards, some palettes and some kohlrabi. It’s important to eat as many different vegetables as possible for optimal health. Now that we’ve got our staples of cabbage, cauli, broccoli and kales in the garden, I’m going to plant the unusual and this will give us a variety of vegetables during the winter months. I’m also planting certain varieties to see how they well they do in our region. But before we get planting, I want to put an emphasis on the soil. You can’t grow really good nutrient-dense vegetables unless your soil is alive and rich and full of goodness. To do this, firstly we need to add a lot of carbon to the soil in the form of compost. Without carbon, your soil structure will collapse and your vegetables will never grow well. The second thing, especially on winter vegetables, we have to have a high nitrogen content. We’ve done this with well-composted chicken manure but you can use blood and bone or any other animal manure. And thirdly, calcium. Now this bed was limed last year and the pH is good, so we’re going to add some gypsum to the soil. The calcium will strengthen the cells of these plants and make them strong.
Then finally we’re going to add our volcanic rock and our seaweed. This is going to be about 72 minerals we’re adding to the soil and if you’re growing your vegetables, those minerals will be absorbed by them and when you eat them, you’re feeding yourself. When planting my seedlings, I don’t bother digging these additives in. They’re not going to burn the roots and things like rain, earthworms, bacteria and fungi, they’ll take care of spreading it through the soil. We’re going to start by planting our kohlrabi. They’re a smaller crop than the others and that’s north-facing so they’re not going to out-shadow the others. Kohlrabi’s a really easy crop to grow. It’s an ancient vegetable that’s really popular in Europe and it’s a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. So it grows as a root vegetable which you can just grate or chop up and put in stir-fries or even eat raw. It just tastes like the heart of a cabbage. These guys grow about the size of beetroot or small softball so I plant them about 15 centimetres apart. And I grow the purple variety here. It seems to do better than the green one. Next, we’re going to plant our collards and these are known by a few names. In New Zealand, they’re often known as Dalmatian cabbages. In Europe, they’re just called ‘greens’ or ‘collard greens’ in America. They’re a really old vegetable that’s high in nutrients and unlike normal cabbage, you just pick the leaves off and eat them. So it’s a bit like kale in some ways. And the last thing we’re going to try this year is kalettes. They’re a new vegetable.
They’re only about 15 years old. What they did is they crossed a brussels sprout with kale. Now in the warmer regions of Auckland here, we can’t grow brussels sprouts. They’re just big and fluffy and they don’t taste good. So what this grows exactly the same and as the leaves grow up, it drops them and on the stem will be a whole lot of little kales which you just pull off and eat. They’re huge in America and England at the moment and they’re supposed to be high in nutritional value. Now at this time of year, the white butterfly and the caterpillars are gone. Even the slugs and snails have gone into hibernation but I’m still going to net my bed because the birds are hungry. We’ve also got those pesky pukekos and a dog that likes to bury his bones. Dahl is one of my favourite wintery dishes. It’s a really versatile meal. You can add all sorts of vegetables to it and today I’m going to add Rob’s silverbeet to it to add some greens. So I start with a base of red split lentils. They’re a really cheap ingredient. That’s one of the really brilliant things about dahl is that it’s an incredibly cheap meal to make as well. So I’ve got these red split lentils that I cook with some water, turmeric and salt. I’ve already got that cooking over on the stove. While that’s cooking I move on to making my spice blend. I’m going to start with some whole spices. I’ve got coriander, coriander seeds. I’ve got some cumin seeds. Bit of black pepper, not too much of that. I’ve also got a couple of cardamom pods – about 6 of those in there. And then a couple of chillis. Now just add chillis to taste. I like things a little spicy so I’m going to add two. If you didn’t really enjoy chilli too much maybe just start with a half. You can always add more. And so I’m going to pop over to the stove and toast these.
OK, so you can start to smell the spices. They’re just lightly toasting. You really don’t want to over-toast the spices, so once they start to get fragrant and a little bit of browning on them, then they’re ready. OK, so these ones are done. Now I’m going to mix with them with some of the ground spices. And pop them all in here, in my little spice mill container. So I’ll chuck these ones in. Along with some cinnamon. And a little bit of clove, not too much, it’s very strong. Now I’m going to take that over and blend it into a spice mix. OK. That one is done. You just want to blend it until it’s really finely ground. You could even do it in a little coffee grinder as well. So next I’m going to cook some onion. So it’s quite typical in dahl to do your spices and onions separately. It’s not like sort of Italian cooking where you would do your onion and everything first, then add the veggies in. You sort of doing it the other way around. Just going to put that on a medium to high heat. And add a little touch of sesame oil. So just wait until your pan heats up before you add the onion. And give it a good stir. You really don’t want the onion to brown. You want it just to cook through evenly and slowly. It will take around 10 minutes. These are ready now so I’m going to add them to the dahl. Along with the spices. That smells incredible. OK, so I’ve also got some lentil sprouts to the add-in. These I’ve made. They just took 2 to 3 days to make. Very easy. Just soak them in a bowl, rinse them day and night for a couple of days, then you’ll end up with these beautiful sprouts. So I’m going to add those in.
So the onions and the spices and the sprouts will all really thicken up this dahl. You can see how much thicker it is now than it was with just the red lentils in here. And so cooking it down for around 10 minutes and you’ll get a nice, slightly runny but thick dahl that you can serve. This is one of my little secret finishing touches to dahl or any kind of curry. So I’m sort of frying curry leaves and mustard seeds. So that pan is nice and hot. And I’m going to add the curry leaves in. You can hear them popping. And add the mustard seeds in there. You’ve just got to be really careful not to burn the mustard seeds. You can’t put too many in the pan at the same time. And I’ll add a pinch of salt. It’s also nice to add some dried coconut in at the end here. It adds a lovely flavour. OK, so these are done. And I need to get them out of the pan ‘cos they keep cooking. And we don’t want them to burn. So the mustard seeds can burn quite easily and then they lose their flavour. OK, so I’m going to chop the silverbeet now. So I’ve got a selection of colours here. So I’m going to get a really big handful. I’m going to pop it in the dahl at the last minute. So it still retains a lot of its nutrients. Just chop it through the middle. Don’t want the pieces too big. OK. Wow. I can see that it’s nice and thick at the bottom. And if you wanted thicker dahl, you just need to keep cooking it down, but just remember to stir it ‘cos it will catch on the bottom a little bit. And it’s such a lovely idea to add fresh things to dahls like the sprouts and the silverbeet.
It just adds a real boost of nutrition to it and flavour as well. So at this point, you want to check the salt levels and the chilli levels. I will need to add more salt. Just remembering that there’s a little bit of salt in the curry leaves. Give it a quick stir. It’s looking great. Now I’m going to place it in the bowl. So I’m going to put a generous serving of this in here. It’s the main part of the dish. A nice little salad. Then I’m going to top it with a dollop of coconut yoghurt. This is also lovely with something like a tamarind sauce or tamarind chutney. And then some of these gorgeous crispy, crunchy curry leaves. And lastly, I’m going to serve it with dosa, which I have a couple in the oven that I made earlier. So this is a fermented lentil pancake made from fermented brown rice and lentils which you soak and mix together, and then leave to ferment, and add some salt and you can cook these beautiful pancakes which go beautifully with the dahl.
Hi Nellie. Hi Meg. Ooo that smells delicious and what a wonderful dish to have for a sort of cold winter night. Yeah, and it’s also filled with greens. Yeah. So it’s a great way of combining fresh raw food with a cooked dish. Yeah, that’s great. So silverbeet is a wonderful rich antioxidant food and you can see that from all the different coloured stems. There’s yellow as well, and they’re veins in the leaves which are the antioxidants. So silverbeet is also a wonderful blood sugar regulator. It contains a flavonoid called syringic acid which actually inhibits the activity of an enzyme which breaks down carbohydrates into simple sugars. The other thing about silverbeet is its stand-out bone support. So it’s really high in Vitamin K and calcium and manganese.