There’s a new leaf in the superfood stakes. Or is it so new? Kumara leaves are becoming popular not because of their novelty value but because recent research undertaken in the USA recognizes that the leaves have three times more vitamin B6, five times more vitamin C, and almost 10 times more riboflavin than the actual kumara. Nutritionally they are similar to Mr superfood spinach. However, they have less oxalic acid.
Kumara leaves are available from specialist greengrocers, farmers’ markets and, of course, growers. They are great in smoothies, stir-fries or sautéed with garlic and combined with a little coconut cream.
And although ‘curly superfood kale’ looks a little more sophisticated than old-fashioned silver beet, the latter — alternatively known as Swiss chard — is also full of good nutrition. Besides, it has a noble past. It’s one of the vegetables recorded as growing in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon; it appeared in the writings of Aristotle; and it was prominent in George Washington’s garden at Mount Vernon.
And don’t ditch the stalks. In Europe they are puréed with cream and nutmeg and also pan-fried with garlic. Or try them stir-fried then topped with blue cheese and walnuts.
KUMARA LEAF TAGLIATELLE
Spinach leaves could replace the kumara leaves.
125g kumara leaves, stalks removed
3 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small red capsicum, sliced
50g fresh mozzarella
Wash and finely slice the kumara leaves.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Add the kumara leaves during the last 2-3 minutes of cooking.
Meanwhile, crush the garlic and salt together with a heavy knife, until a paste forms. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and stir-fry the capsicums and garlic, until just tender.
Drain the pasta and kumara leaves well and add to the capsicum mixture. Toss to combine.
Serve topped with the mozzarella. Serves 2.
SHANGHAI CABBAGE FRITTERS
2 medium Shanghai cabbages
1 small onion, diced
1 medium potato, peeled and shredded
2 tablespoons each: chopped coriander, parsley
1/2 cup each: self-raising flour, water
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon each: ground turmeric, grated root ginger
1-2 tablespoons rice bran oil
Finely slice the stems of the Shanghai cabbage then chop. Finely slice the leaves and place both in a large bowl. Add the onion, potato, coriander and parsley and mix well.
Whisk the flour, water, egg and seasonings and until well combined. Stir into the veggie mixture.
Heat a little oil in a non-stick frying pan. Take heaped tablespoons of the mixture and place in the pan. Cook until the fritters golden underneath then flip over and cook the other side. Keep warm in the oven while preparing the remaining fritters.
Great served with yoghurt, lemon wedges and chutney. Makes 12 fritters.
LITTLE GREEK-STYLE VOL AU VENTS
An economical take on Spanakopita. Remove the thick silver beet stems before weighing.
200g trimmed silver beet
1 shallot, diced
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons milk
100g feta cheese, crumbled
24 mini baked vol au vents
Chop the silver beet leaves and place in a microwave jug. Cover and cook on high for about 3 minutes, or until limp. Cool then chop finely and squeeze dry.
Sauté the shallot and fennel seed in the oil, until softened.
Whisk the egg and milk, until combined. Add the silver beet and feta cheese.
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
Place the vol au vent cases on an oven tray. Fill with the silver beet mixture. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the filling is set. Makes 24.