Disasters and Adventures with Silver Beet

silver beet stalks with tahini

I’m guilty of murder. Okay, not actual murder, more a culinary crime. You know what it’s like. You get an idea for a recipe and in your head it sounds brilliant. But when you execute your plan, the end result is so bloody awful that you feel you may get jail time for your misdeeds. Has this ever happened to you?

Well, it happens to me, and quite often. Last week, for example, I attempted a new approach to silver beet rolls. I had it all planned out. The stuffing would be burghul flavoured with lemon olive oil, raisins and pine nuts. The rolls would be piled and dolloped with thick ribbons of creamy labna. I imagined the velvety textures contrasting with the crisp bite of the roasted pine nuts. I imagined the balance of flavours, sweet, sour, earthy and the heady aroma of lemon and spice. I subsequently imagined myself at a ceremony where Lebanese president Michael Suleiman was granting me the Order of the Cedar for my contribution to and innovation in Lebanese cuisine. The crowd was cheering, and I was shaking the congratulatory hands of my numerous fans.

Unfortunately, the creation was a total disaster. No cheering crowd for me. I was devastated. I wanted to silver beet myself silly.

One consoling factor was that I was left with many silver beet stalks. To avoid further disasters, I resorted to the fool proof Lebanese classic, silver beet stalks in tahini. Tahini is the Lebanese culinary cure-all. If disaster befalls the Lebanese, we reach for tahini. Let me see; we’ve got chickpeas with tahini, eggplants with tahini, snails with tahini, fish with tahini, falafel with tahini, shawarma with tahini, molasses with tahini, kibbeh with tahini, eggs with tahini, cake with tahini. And of course, silver beet stalks with tahini.

This is a super easy dish and is a prime example of how necessity is truly the mother of invention. After making silver beet rolls stuffed with rice, the Lebanese cook is left with a large stack of silver beet stalks. Waste is avoided. The default setting of “smother the whole thing with tahini sauce” is applied. The end result is delicious.

So don’t underestimate this dish because of its simplicity. It really is wonderful, and its creator should have been bestowed the Order of the Cedar. To prepare, cut the cleaned stalks into squares, boil or steam them until just tender and mix into tahini sauce (tahini, lemon juice, crushed garlic, salt and some water for thinning). Sprinkle with roasted or fried pine nuts, drizzle a bit of olive oil and enjoy a disaster free dish.

Share your kitchen disasters. Leave a comment and tell me how horribly you have failed.


  • Showing off my favourite scone recipe to a friend. Forgot. To. Use. SR Flour. Friend now thinks I make really good hockey pucks! Seriously, I thought the silverbeet roll recipe sounded really good, you didn’t say what was wrong, was it the execution or did it not taste right?

  • this is like deja vu! I just had a total chocolate ganache and citrus melted sugar dessert disaster last week, and was about to post it up this week – pictures of flaming pot and all! it’s nice when people showcase their disasters now and then, keeps life real. But it’s crazy how similar our experiences are – I had each individual element of my recipe is so perfectly planned and cohesive, and the mental concept in my mind seemed so harmonious…and then a total anticlimactic ‘flop.’

    my disaster post to come real soon after crazy work week is done! (I haven’t totally read yours because I want to try my hand at mine, and then see how similar/different our paths to cookery doom were!)

  • Lush. Dlou3 Selek – the seasoned stalks of leafy greens from beets to kale- are such a comfort. Tahineh does cure all ills.

    My failure of the year: Persimmon pudding/boiled cake mess. There was no saving this mess…

  • Great kitchen economising!
    I totally embarrassed myself one Xmas eve by serving up a wonderfully fresh and tasty mango, prawn and avocado salad to guests, but neglected to cook the prawns. Confused them with a different batch that were cooked that I had bought on the same day and realised just before the first mouthful went into someone’s mouth. Quite literally.
    Picked all the mango and avocado out, rinsed off the dressing, very quickly sauteed them with some garlic and re-assembled the whole dish!
    Very red faced.

  • I had my share of disasters! Last one was a batch of cookies where I used spreadable butter, obviously not good for baking.
    I wonder if beet stalks are same thing as chard stalks? I love those!

  • 1) I attempted to make Ethiopian injera bread and, instead, produced solid teff-flour place mats.

    2) I generally add a potato to my broccoli cream soup and, on this occasion, I didn’t. What resulted was a nasty, watery sludge that nothing, not even flour, could fix. Down the drain.

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