Ugly rootling


Illustration by Sarah Hansel

What are those hairy brownish roots? They’re salsify, known in Italian as scorzonera, where they’ve been eaten for centuries. They’re also called “oyster plant” for their brackish sweet flavor. Once you get past their ugliness, peel off the rough outer skin and immediately toss the roots with lemon juice to prevent browning. Then blanch, roast or boil them as you would potatoes. Puree salsify into soups or mashed veggies or roast them with meats. Choose ones that aren’t too large and woody, but big enough to make them worth the work.