Braised silverbeet with crisp fried onions and tahini sauce

Braised silverbeet with crisp fried onions and tahini sauce

New Middle Eastern Food
4-6 as part of a mezze selection
Mark Roper

Silverbeet is very popular in Lebanon and Syria, and both leaves and stems are used. The leaves are a little more robust than those of spinach, and have a unique, tangy flavour. In this classic mezze dish they are braised in flavoured oil and served with tahini sauce and topped with crisp fried onions.

Crisp fried onions


Quantity Ingredient
2 1/2 onions, finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
125ml olive oil

Braised silverbeet

Quantity Ingredient
1 large bunch silverbeet
50ml olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, lightly roasted
1 lemon, juiced
150ml white wine
100ml good-quality chicken stock or water
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Tahini sauce

Quantity Ingredient
1 garlic clove, crushed with 1/2 teaspoon salt
125ml tahini, well stirred
80ml lemon juice


  1. Put the onions into a bowl and use your hands to break them up thoroughly. Sprinkle on the salt and toss through. Leave for 15 minutes. Rinse the onions well, then use your hands to squeeze out as much moisture as you can before drying the onions very thoroughly on paper towel. It is important that the onions are as dry as you can get them. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan. When it’s nearly smoking, add the onions and fry for 8–10 minutes. You’ll need to move them around the pan continuously, to ensure that they brown evenly and don’t burn. The onions will darken and caramelise to a deep golden brown. Drain on paper towel and reserve.
  2. Wash the silverbeet in several changes of water then slice out the stems, reserving them for another use. Shred the leaves roughly. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic until they start to soften. Meanwhile, use a mortar and pestle to crush the coriander seeds as finely as you can. Tip into a sieve to remove the husks.
  3. Add the coriander seeds to the pan with the silverbeet, lemon juice, wine and stock. Season with salt and pepper, cover the pan and cook on a low heat for 20 minutes. Towards the end of the cooking time, remove the lid and increase the heat to allow some of the braising liquid to evaporate.
  4. To make the tahini sauce, stir the garlic paste into the tahini, then gradually mix in the lemon juice and enough cold water to thin the sauce to the consistency of pouring cream. Serve the braised silverbeet with plenty of tahini sauce and the crisp onions. Sprinkle with paprika before serving.
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