Our resident chef Mark Hix extols the virtues of sea spinach, which is just like normal spinach but better in every way

 
Mark Hix
Sea spinach in action

When I’m in Dorset at the weekend, there’s nothing I enjoy more than taking a stroll down to the beach to grab a few handfuls of sea spinach.

While I’m there, I also get a few odd looks from tourists and locals alike. Frankly, they’re the ones missing out; also known as sea beet, this variety of spinach is far superior in texture and flavour to the watery, limp stuff you get in the supermarket.

It can be used in lots of ways, but I generally divide the large leaves from the young ones, cooking the former and eating the latter raw in a salad. Rather like sea kale, it makes a great starter when it starts to flower, especially with a shellfish accompaniment or shaved cheese.

Don’t be put off by the hipsters; foraging is a lot of fun, and who can afford to waste free and tasty food they can pick up on their doorstep?

It’s also a great way to get the kids out over the bank holidays, exploring the woods, hedgerows and the beach to learn about good food and their surroundings.

Sea beet and coastal cheddar omelette

Serves 4

Coastal cheddar is made by the Barber family, who live just down the coast from my hometown. Its by product, the whey, also happens to be used to make one of my favourite tipples, Black Cow vodka. This is why coastal greens and cheddar is such a happy marriage in my mind, especially when eaten for breakfast, washed down with a Black Cow Bloody Mary.

Ingredients

  • 12 medium eggs, beaten
  • 120g butter
  • 80-100g sea spinach, trimmed, washed and dried
  • 50-60g coastal cheddar, grated
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Melt half of the butter in a non-stick pan, add the sea spinach, season lightly and turn them on a low heat for a couple minutes. Put to one side.
  • Season the eggs with salt and pepper then rub a little butter into the pan, heat gently, then add a quarter of the egg mixture per person. Stir until the egg begins to set, then scatter on a quarter of the spinach and cheese and carefully roll the omelette up and transfer to warmed serving plates with the seam down.
  • When the omelettes are all cooked, warm them through in the oven before serving.

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