PEOPLE SAY TO ME THAT THERE ARE VERY FEW VEGETABLES EATEN IN SPAIN. I SAY TO THEM THAT THEY ARE EATING IN RESTAURANTS AND NOT SPANISH PEOPLE’S HOMES. TRADITIONALLY, SPANISH PEOPLE ATE THE VEGETABLES THEY COULD AFFORD OR THE ONES THEY COULD GROW. MEAT WAS FOR FEASTING, SO RESTAURANTS SERVED MORE MEAT DISHES: WHO WANTS TO PAY FOR VEGETABLES WHEN YOU’RE TAKING A NIGHT OFF FROM THE KITCHEN? WHEN WE WERE GROWING UP, MUM MADE THIS AMAZING DISH WITH SILVERBEET (SWISS CHARD) AND IT IS TYPICAL OF HOW IT IS COOKED ACROSS SPAIN. THE STALKS ARE SLOWLY SAUTÉED WITH GARLIC AND ONION, THE TORN LEAVES ARE LATER ADDED WITH WATER, AND THE ENSUING STOCK IS THICKENED WITH FRIED BREAD. DON’T BE ALARMED BY THE COOKING TIME — TRUST ME WHEN I SAY THAT IT IS GOING TO BE OKAY TO COOK THE HECK OUT OF YOUR SILVERBEET: IT’S ALL ABOUT FLAVOUR. IF YOU’RE USING THE SLIGHTLY SMALLER AND MORE TENDER EUROPEAN CHARD YOU CAN REDUCE THE COOKING TIME.
Cut off and discard the bottom
Add the shredded silverbeet leaves and remaining salt and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the leaves are just wilted. Stir in the turmeric and
Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the bread slices and the unpeeled garlic cloves and cook, shaking the pan frequently, until the bread is golden and crisp. Remove the bread, drain on paper towel, then return the pan to the heat and cook the garlic cloves for another 2–3 minutes, or until slightly golden. Drain on paper towel.
When cool enough to handle, break up the toasted bread slices with your hands. Peel the toasted garlic, then flatten with the flat side of a large knife and roughly chop.
Add the vinegar and toasted bread and garlic to the silverbeet in the last few minutes of cooking. Season to taste and serve immediately.
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