10.4.10

Sea Beet or Wild Spinach

This is a coastal plant that I think you should become very familiar with as it is simply delicious. The Sea Beet or Wild Spinach also known as the Sea Spinach is a distant relative of the many foods that are cultivated today including Chard and Sugar Beet. The Sea Beet is a very common species of plant that lives around our coasts. It can be found all around the UK coastline and can be found living on the upper beach. The plant is extremely common and it amazes me why it isn’t used more often in the kitchen, the plant isn’t a relative of the Spinach that we consume so readily today but in my eyes it is a far superior alternative that offers everything that cultivated Spinach does not.

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Maybe this is just me but when I eat Spinach I am always under whelmed with its texture especially that of cooked Spinach, the leaves of the Sea Beet are large and thick with a good stem running up the centre of the leaf. The thick leaves make the leaves feel more satisfying and filling and due to the robustness of the leaf they are more generous with their taste. If you like Spinach you will love Sea Beet!!

The plant is easy to identify. The plants thick and succulent leaves make it look like very little else on the shoreline. Its leaves are brilliant green and the newest leaves triangular to spoon shaped with a thick stem running up the middle of the leaf. As the leaves get bigger they begin to look more distorted or crooked. The leaves are available all year although in some areas although their official season is April to October with the young leaves being best in April and May. The whole plant is edible including the flower spikes that appear from June to September – and considered by some to be the best part of the plant. The roots which are bulbous have a mild Beetroot flavour - One little warning about the root though, you are not allowed to remove the roots of plants without the landowners permission, as most of the seashore is owned you will have to find out who owns it prior to digging up anything,. Why not leave the roots though and just pick the delicious young leaves!

Now my favourite bit.. The cooking! Sea Beet can be treated the same as Spinach except with a little extension to the cooking time. Simply wilted with some seasoning and butter it makes an excellent side to most meals or the young washed leaves can be added as an extra addition to salads. You need to get your hands on some and start using it as there are so many ways to use it!! I have chopped the leaves and added them to stir fry’s and even made a SoufflĂ© including them.. Most recently I used them as a brilliant and flavoursome addition to a fisherman’s pie – made from fish caught from the river just metres away, stunning!

Could keep on writing about this much underrated plant and shouting its benefits or talking about its superior spinach’y flavour however if you live near the coast or are planning to visit it why not look out for this tasty little plant and gather some for yourself!! It even keeps better in the fridge than any other green!

Forage it, cook it and let us know what tasty Sea Beet recipes you have created!!

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