I remember once seeing a TV chef talking about salsify, saying how surprised he was that it isn’t more utilised in the domestic kitchen. I’m not…. Let’s be honest, it has the appearance of a muddy stick, has no aroma, and looks like hard work. It isn’t, though. Simply top and tail, then peel as you would do a carrot. Keep in acidulated water after peeling with just a splash of vinegar (any cheap one will be fine). It will otherwise oxidize and turn brown very quickly. It will also be slightly sticky when peeled and release a few drops of milky resin; this is perfectly normal. You can add salsify to stews much as you would do chunks of carrot or swede. It can be rolled in oil and roast in a hot oven to a sweet tenderness like any other winter vegetable, but it actually is best when shallow-fried until golden all over and tender, then tossed whilst still hot in a flavoursome dressing. The combination here with honey, lemon and Brazil nuts is delicious, and would be great served alongside some roast meat or with some mixed leaves and goats cheese perhaps. Don’t chop the Brazil nuts too small; you want to keep some crunch. Similarly, just pick the thyme don’t chop it, so you get that explosive pop of flavour as you eat.
Honey & lemon dressing
1 Lemon, juice and grated zest
120g Virgin rapeseed oil
- Blend the honey, lemon juice and zest, and salt, then gradually blend in the oil in a slow stream.
Salsify peeled and kept in acidulated water
Vegetable oil or 50/50 mix with rapeseed oil
Thyme, picked into pluches
Brazil nuts, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
- Heat a frying pan with a shallow layer of oil, about 1.5cm deep, to 170-180C.
- Drain the salsify and cut into finger-length batons.
- Dry on absorbent paper then add to the oil and cook for about 6-8 mins until golden all over and cooked through, moving the pan and salsify if needed to cook evenly.
- Drain with a slotted spoon on absorbent paper, then transfer to a bowl and season with salt, then toss with a generous amount of the dressing, some Brazil nuts and the thyme.