Salsify is a particularly good example of the old principle that first impressions are often deceptive. This root vegetable may look inconspicuous, but its unattractive exterior belies a delicious flavor and tons of nutritional value.
What You Should Know About Salsify
Anyone who sees salsify but hasn’t yet tasted it might wonder why its second name is "winter asparagus". But peel the root vegetable, and soon you will find slender, snow-white stems a few inches long appear under the black skin.
As with asparagus pricking, each individual black salsify has to be carefully removed from the ground by hand with a digging fork, because even the slightest damage to the skin causes it to dry out and lose its flavour.
Until the 16th century, black salsify was consumed almost exclusively in Spain, where it was known as a wild, effective medicinal plant against everything from colds to snake bites. In the 17th century the vegetable began to proliferate to other countries.
Black salsify is a typical winter vegetable that is in season from October to April.
Despite its nickname "winter asparagus”, black salsify doesn’t taste a lot like asparagus. Its flavor more intense, rather spicy and slightly nutty, while ts texture is most similar to carrots or parsnips.
How Healthy Is Salsify?
After peas and beans, salsify contains the most nutrients of all vegetables. Its particularly high in calcium and phosphorus, and also has a high level of inulin, a soluble fiber which is great for fat metabolism and intestinal flora. Along with its low fat and calorie contents, this makes salsify a great vegetable for the figure-conscious.
Black salsify can contain a lot of nitrate, from which harmful nitrosamines develop. However, you can defuse this substance if you serve black salsify with vitamin C-rich sauces (e.g. with fresh lemon juice) or drinks (e.g. freshly squeezed orange juice).
|Salsify Nutritional Info (100 g)|
Shopping and Cooking Tips
When shopping for salsify, make sure the roots are straight and undamaged. Broken black salsify dry out quickly and becomes hard.
Fresh and undamaged salsify will keep for 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator. Store it in plastic wrap with a moist kitchen towel.
Begin preparing your salsify by scrubbing them under running water under all dirt and sand is removed. Next, peel off the salsify’s rough skin, and then immediately place it in a bowl of water with some vinegar or lemon to stop it from discoloring.
If you boil salsify for 20-25 minutes first before peeling, this will remove the risk of discoloration as well.
What To Make With Salsify
Any way you can prepare asparagus, you can prepare salsify. Try it with a light hollandaise sauce, a béchamel sauce or with a little melted butter, served with boiled potatoes and lean ham.
The root vegetable is also delicious in a refined salad, risotto or even in crepes.