These recipes were passed along to me from a former CSA member in the Port Perry area, where I used to co-manage a CSA, Lunar Rhythm Gardens. Salsify is one of the more unusual vegetables I grow, and it can be helpful to have some tips and ideas about what to do with such a delicacy. Roger Genoe, the chef at Ravenna Country Market, who spent a few years working and learning in Germany, said salsify was often peeled and preparedmuch like asparagus there – lightly sauteed or steamed and perhaps with a drizzle of hollandaise sauce on top. Here are a few more ideas. Thanks Susan!
Salsify is paler, slightly sweeter and silkier than the darker, crisper scorzonera with its dramatic, sooty skin, but you can use them interchangeably in recipes, including these. They’re also known as the “oyster plant” and if you cook them with a little butter and wine, you may well discern about them a subtle hint of that esteemed bivalve.
A great brunch or lunch dish, and perfect served alongside a few crisp rashers and a fried or poached egg. Makes six fritters.
45g unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small red chilli, finely diced
3 tbsp finely chopped coriander
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
Peel and coarsely grate the salsify. Warm 20g of the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat and sauté the salsify until softened. Transfer to a bowl and mix with the garlic, chilli, coriander, egg and flour. Season generously, then form into six fritters. Warm the remaining butter and the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, and cook the fritters until golden, about four minutes a side.
The simplest way to prepare these lovely roots is to peel them, put them in a roasting tin, trickle over a little olive or rapeseed oil, add a few bashed garlic cloves and a bay leaf, and roast at 200C/400F/gas mark 6 for 20 minutes. Serve with a sprinkling of flaky sea salt, or follow Jane Grigson‘s excellent suggestion and sprinkle on some gremolata, that zingy southern Italian condiment made of lemon zest, finely chopped garlic and parsley. Or boil or steam them until just tender, chop small and serve with a mustardy, garlicky vinaigrette and perhaps a few pieces of diced ham, rather as you might with a celeriac remoulade.
Damon Wise’s Pan-Roasted Salsify
4 large salsify roots
Juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
5 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1–2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
(1) Peel the salsify and place in a shallow pan with water to cover, lemon juice, black pepper, 3 sprigs of thyme, bay leaf, coriander, and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook until tender. (2) Remove salsify from liquid and once cooled, cut into small pieces (batons) of equal size. Heat sauté pan over medium heat and add olive oil. (3) Add salsify and season with salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown. Add the butter and the remaining sprigs of thyme and toss until the butter foams. Remove from heat and transfer to paper towels. Serve immediately
The perfect accompaniment to a Sunday roast (incidentally, this is different from the recipe I wrote for this magazine in Christmas 2007). Serves four.
35g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
Juice of 1 lemon
850g salsify (about 8 roots)
1 litre vegetable stock
150ml dry white wine
60g kale (or cabbage), washed and finely shredded
25g plain flour
150ml double cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
75g grated cheddar or other hard, well-flavoured cheese
50g coarse white breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/ gas mark 6 and butter a gratin dish about 26cm in length. Put the lemon juice into a large bowl along with some cold water. One by one, peel each salsify root, cut into 4cm x 1cm batons and drop straight into the lemon water to prevent discolouring. Repeat with all the roots.
When the salsify has been prepared, drain and transfer to a saucepan along with the stock and wine. Bring up to a simmer and cook for five minutes, until tender but still with a bit of bite.
While the salsify is cooking, put the kale in a large pan with a centimetre or two of water and cook for about three minutes, until wilted. Drain the salsify, reserving the stock, and set aside. Return the stock to the pan and simmer until reduced by half.
Meanwhile, mash together the butter and flour with a fork. When the stock has reduced, keep it simmering and add the flour paste in little nuggets, whisking all the time. Keep whisking until the sauce thickens to the consistency of single cream. Stir in the double cream and remove from the heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Lay the salsify and kale in the gratin dish, and pour over the creamy sauce. Combine the cheese with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle on top. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden.