Monday, January 23, 2012

Salsify Sachets

Thanks to our Open Oak Farm CSA, I've been introduced to a vegetable I'd never heard of before: salsify. According to Amanda Hesser's Essential New York Times Cookbook, salsify was last popular in the 1880s, and indeed one of the first items recovered from a search for salsify recipes is a listing of vintage recipes, including instructions for scalloping, stewing, and sauteing. It occurred to me that these gnarly root vegetables might do well baked in foil packets like this. And because they are supposed to have a mild oyster flavor (they are also called oyster plants), I thought they would taste nice with shallots and a lemony dressing, paired with fish.

Like awkward adolescents, salsify roots are gangly and hairy, and they start to blush brown as soon as you try to open them up. But a toss in lemony vinaigrette halted the discoloration. And after 30 minutes of roasting and steaming, they emerged from their foil packets mature and refined, with a delicate flavor more like artichoke hearts than oysters. I'm convinced that this charming vegetable is due for a comeback.

Salsify Sachets
serves two
2-3 salsify roots
1 lemon
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp white vermouth
salt and pepper
2 shallots, peeled and sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Prepare the vinaigrette. In a medium bowl, mix together zest from the lemon (a microplane grater works well for zesting), juice from 1/2 lemon, mustard, olive oil, white vermouth, and salt and pepper.

3. Peel the salsify with a vegetable peeler, cut the thicker parts into matchsticks the width of the thinner parts, and quickly toss the pieces into the vinaigrette as you go to slow the browning.

4. On a baking sheet, spread out two sheets of aluminum foil, about 10 inches long. Divide the salsify and vinaigrette between the two foils and sprinkle over the chopped shallots. For each foil sheet, fold one half over the other and then crimp the edges to make a packet. Place the foil packets on the baking sheet into the oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes until the contents are soft and have started to caramelize. Serve warm, pouring all of the accumulated juices over the vegetables. 

Note: If you can't find salsify, this recipe would also work nicely with other root vegetables like parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes, or fennel bulbs.

Pan Fried Cod with Capers
serves two
2 cod fillets
wondra or flour
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp capers
juice from 1/2 lemon
splash of white vermouth

1. Start heating a skillet over medium high heat. Season the cod fillets with salt and pepper and sprinkle over some wondra flour, shaking off the excess. When the pan is hot, melt the butter. Then add the fillets, press down with a spatula, and let them cook until nicely browned, about 4 minutes. Flip them and cook on the second side until browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove the filets to warm plates.

2. Add the capers to the browned butter in the pan and saute for a minute. Then add the lemon juice and white vermouth. Let the caper sauce cook down for a minute and then pour over the fish fillets. Serve at once with roasted vegetables and couscous to soak up the sauces.


Anna said...

Salsify is Schwarzwurzel in German, and considered the poor man's white asparagus! And the Wednesday Chef had a nice post on them a while back.

Renee said...

So creative! I've never heard of salsify. Love your cod recipe! I've decided I need to conquer fish this year and this sounds simple and tasty. I love capers and I can finally use up some of that vermouth sitting in my cabinet. Or, perhaps you could come over and teach me to make martinis!

Elly said...

I was wondering what you would do with the salsify! Excellent! And I second Renee's comments :)