I’ve just returned from Belgium where I was a participant on an unusual cookery course in Ghent. Run by Bruno van Assche, a private chef who has trained under Gordon Ramsay among others, it was all in a wonderful guesthouse where I was staying. What’s a forgotten vegetable? According to Bruno, salsify, parsnip and kohlrabi qualify. I loved the class – here’s the first recipe to try yourself at home.
Bruno van Assche’s classes cost €60. For more information: lecumedesjours.com
- 8 salsify
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 750ml chicken stock
- 1 chopped onion
- 1 leek
- 2 cloves of garlic
- A dash of cream
- A dash of lemon juice
- Some grated cheese (mimolette cheese was used, but a good substitute is a decent Red
- Leicester or medium cheddar)
- Truffle oil
Peel and chop the salsify into 1 inch pieces. Add to a saucepan with the stock, thyme and bay leaf and boil until the salsify has a little bite to it, around 10 minutes.
Remove the salsify with a slotted spoon and set the stock aside.
Gently fry the the onion, leek, garlic and salsify in butter until golden, then add most of the chicken stock, cream and lemon juice and blend together. Add more stock until the desired consistency.
Drizzle with truffle oil and a sprinkle of black pepper and a shaving or two of cheese. Finish with a pinch of fresh chives and croutons if you like.
In Belgium, Salsify is known as ‘poor man’s asparagus’ and it’s easy to find, but people choose not to cook with it. There’s also a perception that it’s hard to clean, but actually, once you’ve rinsed it and peeled it with a potato peeler, there’s not much more to it.
If preparing in advance, submerge peeled and chopped salsify in cold water with a squeeze of lemon juice, to stop it from turning brown.