Salsify, a plant belonging to the sunflower family, is also known as the oyster plant. This root looks like a skinny parsnip with oyster-flavored, creamy white flesh encased inside a hairy brown exterior. Originating from the Mediterranean, salsify is seasonally available in spring and autumn, and you’ll likely find it at your local farmers markets and high end restaurants this season. Are you ready to fall in love with salsify?
Salsify looks kind of like a dandelion, with long, blade shaped leaves and slender stalks that produce a purple or yellow flower. When the blossom dies off, it turns into the feathery seed head that dandelions also produce at the end of their life cycle. Because of this, salsify can easily become a weed, as its seeds spread very quickly in the wind.
Salsify is an excellent source of potassium, especially when you need it from some other source than just bananas. Other essential minerals found in the root are calcium, phosphorus, and iron, alongside vitamins A, B1, E, and C. As a root vegetable, salsify is also ideal for grounding and equilibrating tonics.
Salsify roots are tastiest when they are young, but older roots are tasty when cooked up in stews or used in vegetable gratins. Make sure to thoroughly scrub and peel the roots before use. Grate young roots for salads or garnishes, and chop older roots for sites, soups, mashes or bakes. You can also roast salsify roots, just be sure to use a marinade or steam in your oven so that you don’t dry the roots out.
Salsify has shown up in a variety of dishes, from vegan pastas to early spring soups, crispy fritters, and artisan pizzas. Here are a few of our favorite salsify recipes:
- Braised Salsify: This is a super simple yet delicious recipe that works well as a side dish or a light meal to enjoy with some freshly baked bread and a green salad.
- Cream of Salsify Soup: Comforting and completely satisfying this, this soup recipe is perfect for those chilly early spring nights. Use your favorite vegan substitutes for the butter, cream and chicken stock if you wish!
- Salsify Crepes with Sango Sprouts: These savory vegan crepes are perfect for a salty breakfast, a light lunch, or dinner. Enjoy them with your favorite early spring salad.
- Salsify Fritters: This recipe is perfect for a weekend brunch, and will go over beautifully with some organic scrambled eggs and a side of sautéed greens.
- Roasted Salsify: When you’re looking for an easy, satisfying and healthy salsify recipe, this is your go-to. If you prefer not to use wine, opt for vinegar or pickle juice instead.
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Image: Seacoast Eat Local