Salsify and anchovy gratin with oysters

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Preparation info

  • Serves

    6

    as a side dish
    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Vegetables: The new food heroes

Vegetables

By Peter Gordon

Published 2007

  • About

Salsify is occasionally called ‘oyster plant’, so it seemed fitting to pair it with oysters. If you’re not a fishy person and want this to be oyster- and anchovy-free, then add more Parmesan and salt. Salsify usually come covered in the fine dirt in which they have been grown. You need to wash this off first, and then quickly peel them – a regular potato peeler is all you need, but, as they discolour quickly, have a pot with acidulated water ready.

Do wear gloves, as the salsify seem to coat your hands in a sticky film. Very tasty, like a crunchy potato, they are a great ‘new’ old vegetable to get used to again. This gratin goes really well with baked or steamed fish, as part of a vegetarian meal (without the fishy ingredients), as well as with roast lamb and chicken.

Ingredients

  • 100 ml white wine or cider vinegar
  • 600 g salsify
  • 10 cm length of rosemary on the stem
  • handful of thyme
  • 400 ml double cream
  • 8 salted anchovies, bones removed, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 50 g softened butter
  • 12 shelled oysters, coarsely chopped

Method

Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas 3½. Fill a large wide saucepan with 1 litre of cold water and add the vinegar. Wash and peel the salsify as described on the right, placing them in the pan as they are done.

Add the herbs and a generous teaspoon of salt, and bring to the boil, then cook until you can just insert a sharp knife into the salsify. Drain in a colander, reserving the herbs.

Place the cream and the leaves from the reserved herb stalks in a saucepan. Bring to the boil (don’t let it boil over) and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the anchovies and Parmesan, adjust for saltiness and turn the heat off.

Rub the butter over the bottom of a 1.5 litre gratin dish and then place the salsify in, trimming it to fit neatly. Spoon the chopped oysters over the salsify, grind over plenty of pepper, then pour the cream on top. Bake in the centre of the oven for 15–20 minutes, until it’s golden and bubbling. Serve while piping hot.