Salsify is a white-fleshed vegetable root that could easily be mistaken for a yellowish gray carrot or parsnip. The salsify plant, which is 10 to 12 inches in length and has a diameter of about 2 1/2 inches, is cultivated primarily for its slender edible roots, although the young tender leaves, often called “chards,” are commonly used in salads.
The taste has been described as similar to that of an oyster, earning it the nickname “oyster plant.” It has a creamy, sweet taste and a soft texture. Care must be taken when cooking, as it can turn to mush very quickly if overcooked.
When selecting the salsify root, look for a firm, well-formed, medium-size root that is heavy for its size. Oversized roots are tough and woody and should be avoided. Salsify oxidizes very quickly when peeled and must be placed in cold lemon water to prevent darkening. If salsify is stored with the tops removed in a sealed plastic bag in a cold, moist storage area, it may keep up to 4 months.
Salsify can be baked, steamed, fried, served in soups, or cut into cubes and stewed. If roots are to be steamed, they should be scrubbed and peeled before cooking. The sliced root can be added to savory vegetable pies. In addition, young shoots and flower buds can be used as a substitute for asparagus or added raw to salads.
Additional nutrition and health information can be found at: http://missourifamilies.org/.
Contributor: Maude Harris, Nutrition/Health Education Specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org, (573) 545-3516