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Salsify Roots

Salsify is in the sunflower family, which includes the chicories, and the lettuces, as well as the artichoke. It is a long-season plant, which has long grassy leaves and a long narrow root. The delicate, creamy white, faintly oyster-flavored flesh gives it it’s alias “Oyster Plant” and “Vegetable Oyster”. I don’t taste this myself, but others must. The root is the edible part of the plant.


The root has a slightly firm texture of young turnips or celery root. It can be steamed and easten au naturel, not or chilled; sauced with herbs and butter or a vinaigrette. It can also be fried, robed in cream sauce, gratinéed, puréed; alone or in combination with other root vegetables, including potatoes.

The roots must be peeled before cooking because the skin contains a sticky substance that is easily removed with vinegar and salt. The root discolors when exposed to air, so once peeled put it in water containing lemon juice or vinegar if you want it to stay white.

BATTER-FRIED SALSIFY FRITTERS

4-5 cups Cold Water
3 tbsp. Cider Vinegar
5 Salsify Roots, about 1/2 pound in all
3/4 cup All Purpose Flour
1 cup Ice Water
1/2 tsp. Salt
Light Oil (Canola) for frying

1. Put the cold water and vinegar in a bowl. Using a vegetable peeler or paring knife, scrape away the skin of the roots. Rinse them and then cut into 2-inch lengths, then quarter them lengthwise to make thin sticks. Put them into the acidulated water to prevent discoloration.

2. Preheat an oven to 3o0° to keep the fritters warm. In a deep skillet pour in oil to a depth of 2 inches and place over medium heat until hot. (You can also pan fry in shallower oil).

3. While the oil is heating, put the flour and salt in a bowl and whisk or beat in the ice water. When the oil is ready, dip the salsify pieces, 4 or 5 at a time into the batter, and them slip them into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the fritters to absorbent towels to drain. Place in the oven until all the fritters have been fried. Serve hot.

PAN-ROASTED SALSIFY

4 large Salsify roots
Juice from 1 Lemon
1 tsp. Black Peppercorns
4-5 sprigs Thyme
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp. Coriander Seeds
1-2 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 tsp. Butter
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper

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.

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