This is salsify (SAL-suh-fee). Have you come across it? Salsify was a popular garden crop in Colonial America; thereafter, its appeal dwindled. However, salsify is currently making a comeback (thanks to local farmers), albeit a very, very slow one. Salsify is new to me. Had never tried or even crossed paths with it prior to this past weekend. Regarding salsify, I read, “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.” After a little research, I learned you can braise, roast, fritter, or turn salsify into a gratin, to name a few of the more common preparations.
Today I decided to keep it clean and simple in order to taste the true essence of the salsify. Just a quick boil until fork tender, then cooked in butter (yum) with some minced shallots until the salsify are browned in spots. Not sure I discern the taste of oysters, rather, more of a cross between a potato and an artichoke, quite unique to say the least. Am digging salsify’s unusual and unexpected flavor profile. Am now eager to try other preparations. This bisque sounds intriguing if you have access to some briny oysters. Hope there is more salsify at next Saturday’s farmers’ market!
Not the most common root vegetable to be found, but definitely worth keeping an eye out for. Perhaps, some day soon, due to the likes of curious and adventurous individuals, salsify will once again enjoy its day in the sun.
Salsify with Shallots and Parsley
Adapted ever so slightly from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
Juice of 2 lemons
1 1/2 pounds of salsify
1 tablespoon flour
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large shallot, finely diced
3 tablespoons butter
chopped parsley for garnish
Set aside 1/2 lemon and squeeze the juice of the rest into a bowl. Peel the salsify one at a time, cut into desired lengths or julienne strips. Quickly place the pieces into the lemon juice and add water as needed to cover, to prevent browning.
Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the remaining 1/2 lemon, the flour, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Drain the salsify and add it to the pot. Boil until tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes. Drain again and pat dry.
Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute a few minutes until translucent, but not browned. Add the salsify and cook until golden brown in spots, about 5 more minutes. Toss with parsley and season with salt and pepper.