Spring always feels like a time filled with hope. Hope for warmer days, fresh produce, and flowers everywhere you look. We have been experiencing quite a chilly spring here in Charlotte, compared to what we are used to, but I know that the best of the season is yet to come. This past Wednesday, I picked up our first batch of CSA goodies (if you're in Charlotte, we are members of Poplar Ridge Farm). I have been looking forward to this delivery ever since I signed up last fall. I loved the idea of supporting a local farm, and getting fresh, local, organic produce once a week straight from the source.
We have a really amazing flexible membership that allows us to adjust the volume of produce each week, as well as choose what types. I made a promise to myself that I would always sign up for vegetables and fruit that I wouldn't usually buy at the store, and even some varieties I've never heard of. This week brought us just that: the strange-looking, interesting salsify, or "oyster plant".
I have never seen or heard of this root vegetable, but when I saw it listed on this week's order form I was intrigued, and began doing research immediately on ways we could cook it. I found this article which was extremely helpful, and settled on making a gluten-free version of the salsify fritters, served atop a bed of spicy micro greens (also from my weekly share). The result was an easy-to-prepare, delicious, crispy fritter with a bit of a kick and brightness from the lemon juice added at the end. My only regret? I didn't use the leaves! I found out after-the-fact that the leaves on top of the salsify root are very leek-like, and a little sweet. Next time, I will be cooking those up as well.
adapted from The Guardian
5 salsify roots, stems removed and reserved for another use
1 tablespoon salted butter, divided.
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus additional for garnish
1 teaspoon brown rice flour
1 egg white
freshly ground black pepper and lemon wedges, for garnish
First, prepare the salsify. Using a paring knife, remove the skin from each root. The flesh will begin to change color immediately, which is fine. If you plan to remove the skin and reserve before cooking, place in a bowl of cold water with lemon juice.
Coarsely grate the salsify - you should end up with 3 to 3.25 ounces. In a medium saucepan, melt 2 teaspoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the salsify, and sauté until soft and brown at the edges, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat, and add to a mixing bowl.
Add the garlic, cumin, red pepper flakes, and brown rice flour to the grated salsify. Stir to combine. Then, add the egg white and stir to combine. Add the remaining teaspoon of butter to the pan over medium-high heat. Form half of the salsify mixture into a patty and add to the pan. Repeat with the remaining half. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side.
Serve over spicy micro greens if you have them. Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper and red pepper flakes over the fritters, and top with fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Serves 2 as an appetizer.