Meadow Salsify & Purple Salsify

Botanists call them Tragopogon pratensis and Tragopogon porrifolius, but they’re commonly known as Salsify, Meadow salsify, Purple or common salsify, Oyster plant, Vegetable oyster, Goatsbeard.

Purple salsify is native to Europe, common from plain to foothill areas, meanwhile Meadow Salsify (with yellow flowers) can be found in sunny meadows, up to 6500 feet or so.

As I don’t like to uproot native plants, last year I harvested some seeds from them both to sow in my backyard. They tell me that this forgotten delicious root helped to feed a lot of families in war times. On top of it all, salsify roots contain inulin: one of the few polysaccharides that diabetic people can eat without restrictions. Inulin acts as prebiotic, help absorb minerals and regualte blood sugar levels, control obesity and ease constipation problems. I have to try it!

Tragopogon porrifolius – Purple salsify
Tragopogon porrifolius – Purple salsify

With whom it might pair well?

The root of the purple salsify, Tragopogon porrifolius, is described as having the taste of oysters: I tasted it boiled and I found it a somewhat delicate blend of artichoke and celery, with a touch of sweetness. Consinstency resembles the one of pumpkins or potatoes, smooth and mealy.

With whom it might pair well? I would like to use also some fresh Horn of Plenty mushrooms I found yesterday… I still need something to blend their taste. Meat could do the job! Let’s go into the experiment, than. A quick look in my family’s recipe book for the perfect polpettone trick, and I’m ready.

Salsify open-faced Polpettone, on a bed of pumpkin skin puree
Salsify open-faced Polpettone, on a bed of pumpkin skin puree
Salsify open-faced Polpettone, autumn recipe that goes well with barberry!
Salsify open-faced Polpettone, autumn recipe that goes well with barberry!

Salsify open-faced Polpettone recipe

Ingredients quantities are approximate, I cooked at a glance and I obtained two small pies (4-1/2-inches in diameter).

Ingredients for beef mince bottom layer

  • 300 g Minced Beef
  • 7 inch of Raw Sausage
  • 1 Egg
  • Stale bread soaked in milk
  • Dried Carrot leaves (or any aromatic herb)

 Ingredients for Salsify filling

  • Salsify roots (Tragopogon pratensis or T. porrifolius)
  • 3 tbs Greek Yogurt
  • 2 tbs grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 handful of Horn of Plenty Mushrooms
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chives to taste

Directions:

First of all, the mushrooms: wash and simmer in a frying pan for at least 15-20 minutes.

Than the salsify filling: wash the salsify thoroughly to remove all earth, cut them into rounds and cook in a frying pan with a few drops of olive oil, slowly adding water when needed (like you would do with carrots).

To clean the roots I use shower gloves: they help me to take off all the tiny roots and dirt without having to peel them.

Blend salsify, egg, yogurt, parmesan cheese. Than add chives and mushrooms
Blend salsify, egg, yogurt, parmesan cheese. Than add chives and mushrooms

When roots are done, put them in the food processor with greek yogurt, parmesan, egg, salt and pepper.

Pulse untile you reach a rough creamy mixture. Add chives and Horn of Plenty mushrooms and blend with a spoon. Heat the oven.

The bottom layer is similar to the traditional italian “polpettone” recipe
The bottom layer is similar to the traditional italian “polpettone” recipe

Let’s mix the bottom layer: in a mixing bowl put the minced beef, the raw sausage, the stale bread (previosly soaked in milk) and the eggs. Season with salt, pepper and aromatic herbs. Mix them with your hands (i know, it sounds weird, but it’s a lot better than using a fork), squash and knead until until well combined.

Put the two mixtures in the springform pan: on bottom the polpettone, on top the salsify filling
Put the two mixtures in the springform pan: on bottom the polpettone, on top the salsify filling

Assemble the pie in the springform pan, on bottom the polpettone mixture and on top the salsify filling. Bake in preheated oven at Infornate a 428°F for 10-15 minutes.

Serve it warm, on a bed of pumpkin skin puree and a generous handful of barberry (Berberis vulgaris).

Salsify open-faced Polpettone

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