Black Salsify

Illustrations by John BurgoynePhoto: Kang Kim

The root vegetable called salsify comes in two hues—the often gnarly white and the sticklike, bark-skinned black, a plant more accurately known as scorzonera, which can be found at Greenmarket’s Paffenroth Gardens stand. Even though Thomas Jefferson is said to have cultivated it, salsify, with a flavor that reminds some of oysters and others of artichokes, is more popular in Europe than it is here, where seasonally minded chefs like Craft’s Damon Wise are trying to raise its understated profile.

Damon Wise’s Pan-Roasted Salsify

4 large salsify roots
Juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
5 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1–2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

(1) Peel the salsify and place in a shallow pan with water to cover, lemon juice, black pepper, 3 sprigs of thyme, bay leaf, coriander, and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook until tender. (2) Remove salsify from liquid and once cooled, cut into small pieces (batons) of equal size. Heat sauté pan over medium heat and add olive oil. (3) Add salsify and season with salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown. Add the butter and the remaining sprigs of thyme and toss until the butter foams. Remove from heat and transfer to paper towels. Serve immediately.

Black Salsify