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October/November 2007


FROM THE GARDEN

Veg Out
by Lorilynn Bauer

[RECIPE]

UNUSUAL VEGETABLES THAT ARE PERFECT FOR FALL

[Image]

There are three vegetables in my garden that never fail to confound guests--salsify, cardoon and Jerusalem artichokes. I am often asked, "What are they?" "What do they taste like?" and "How do you prepare them?" I have been growing and cooking these three for years and look forward to harvesting them in the fall when so many of my summer vegetables are past their prime. They can be challenging to locate in the grocery stores on the East End, but quite easy to grow yourself from seed. Sunchokes and salsify are members of the sunflower family and cardoon is a member of the daisy family. Since sunflowers are also members of the daisy family, they are all cousins.

Salsify is a root vegetable that is cultivated here, Central and Southern Europe and Asia. It takes 150 days to grow, so it is best to start them off in early spring. The leaves are edible and can be used in salads or as a quick stir—fry, and the root is similar in appearance to a thin parsnip. Salsify is typically referred to as white or black salsify, with the black salsify also being called Scorzonera root. I grow both varieties and find the taste is a cross between an artichoke and asparagus. I prefer the black salsify because it can extend up to six inches longer than the white root and it grows into a more evenly tapered form than the white salsify. When they are cooked, they have the texture of an artichoke heart with the added bonus of not containing any cholesterol or fat. They are also low in sodium, and provide an excellent source of dietary fiber. Both types of salsify can be prepared in the same manner as parsnips and carrots for use in soups, stews and a variety of savory dishes. Or they can be simply cooked as vegetable side dishes. The vegetable pairs well with Gruyere and Parmesan cheese, celery root, lemon, shellfish, ham, onions, tomatoes and cream.

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