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This Week’s Harvest, 1/27

January 27, 2010

Potatoes, scorsonères, Brussels sprouts, beets, mâche, apples

Another week, another new mystery vegetable.  This time it was scorsonère.  I definitely had to do some research on these black roots, first finding the French Wikipedia page for scorsonère which yields little information, save the Latin name of the plant and a tidbit about how the name comes from Italian or Catalan – it refers to the name of a snake whose poison it was believed could be neutralized by the root.  However, plugging the Latin name, Scorzonera hispanica, into a search engine brings up a host of information in English.  The English Wikipedia page gives it several names, among them black or Spanish salsify, viper’s herb,  and black oyster plant.  It is a member of the sunflower family, and it is advised that it be dunked in acidulated water immediately after peeling, lest it turn black (again).  Most of the cooking advice I’ve found for it suggest boiling, followed by sautéeing in butter.  A couple of sources, both French and English, recommend battering and deep-frying it.  Tempura, anyone?  I hear it goes well with Japanese flavors.

Luckily, the rest of the produce is familiar.  The mâche is a welcome leafy green in the winter months, and a light salad always makes an excellent foil to the rich, hearty cuisine of the season.

We’re still warming up to beets around here, although this roasted preparation is always a winner.  I might try to branch out this time, though, and try something like this Chinese beet dish from Bitten.  Or maybe, since they’re small and cute, I’ll roast them whole, then slice them, place them on crackers or little toasts, and top with caramelized onions and bleu d’Auvergne for a chic canapé.

I just bought a new crèpe pan, and the instructions say to boil potato peelings in it before seasoning it for the first time.  But what to do with those potatoes once they’re peeled?  I’m thinking of using them in place of the gnocchi (gnocchi are made from potatoes, after all) in this fantastic-looking recipe from Chez Loulou, which also just happens to contain Brussels sprouts!  Hooray!  If that doesn’t take care of all of the Brussels sprouts, I’ll sauté the rest in duck fat.

Now that my crèpe pan is good and seasoned, maybe I’ll whip up some crèpes and fold them around some Tatin-style apples.

Originally published on Seasonal Market Menus.

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