To Cook Salsify and Scorzonera

The Basics

Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini

By Elizabeth Schneider

Published 2001

  • About

Salsify and scorzonera can be steamed or simmered gently. In traditional European kitchens, they are cooked a blanc (in water mixed with flour and lemon juice) to maintain uniform paleness. I don’t find this necessary, as the color stays pretty much the same with acid alone. But the European method adds tartness and succulence and allows for advance preparation, as the roots can be refrigerated in the liquid for a few days.


  • About pounds scorzonera or pounds white salsify (weighed without leaves)


    To prepare

    Scrub roots with brush. Peel completely, removing rootlets and dark spots. Trim neck, if necessary; cut off long skinny tips, which can be fibrous. Leave whole or cut into lengths desired. If salsify is very wide at the base, cut off the thickest part and cut 2 or 3 lengthwise slices. Place pieces in a bowl of lemon water or in the pan of lemon-water or lemon-flour-water in which you’ll cook them.

    To steam

    Drain off water. Place prepared salsify on steamer rack over boiling water. Cover; cook until just tender throughout. Timing varies from about 10 to 30 minutes. Check roots with knife tip and remove when tender. Do not overcook, or they will turn to mush.

    To simmer

    In non-aluminum saucepan, combine 6 to 8 cups water, ¼ cup lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add prepared salsify; bring to a boil. Lower heat to bare simmer and cook until not quite tender. Cool in liquid until tender to taste. If you are going to puree the salsify, cook until truly soft, then drain.

    To cook à blanc

    In non-aluminum saucepan, whisk ¼ cup flour with enough water to make a paste. Gradually whisk in another cup of water, then pour in quarts more. Add ¼ cup lemon juice and 1 teaspoon salt, and proceed as above.

    To finish

    Mash soft-cooked salsify with butter and cream; reheat. Sauté diagonal slices in melted butter with a touch of sugar and lemon or orange to glaze. Simmer slices with cream and herbs. Bathe in vinaigrette and chill. Reheat salsify gently and spoon over any of the cream or egg sauces with which asparagus is served.

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