The Mystery Vegetable Conundrum

Nearly a month ago, I spent a Sunday at an English teacher’s house with a few other assistants and her neighbors. During the meal, Christine’s neighbor invited everyone over to another Sunday midi at their house to celebrate her husband’s birthday. She also mentioned that we would have to RSVP so that she could assign dishes for everyone to contribute. I had brought soup to Christine’s, obviously, and I was excited at the prospect of having another occupied Sunday and be able to spend even more time making something to share with everyone. A few weeks went by, and Christine sent me an email making sure that I still wanted to go. Upon receiving my RSVP, Christine shared my number with Marie-Rose.

Before I go further into this story, let me just say that one of my current fears is talking on the phone. Since I’ve been here, I have only called English-speakers, otherwise it’s been by text, even if that may be more expensive overall. I have enough difficulty understanding full-speed French speakers while having the aid of reading body language and miming. The usual scenario of my French phone conversations is confusion, misunderstanding and despite this, agreement followed by a quick disengagement. Nowadays, nothing will stop me in my tracks like the sound of my cell phone ringing. 

Marie-Rose has now called me twice. She does not speak English.

The first time she called me, she asked me to meet her in front of la cathédrale in une demi-heure. I finally understood this after a few flustered minutes and she mentioned the 11 du december and les préparations de la menu and l'anniversaire de Jean-Luc. Ok. She wanted to assign me what I should make for the midi meal. I managed to make the three minute walk over to the cathedral and meet up with Marie-Rose and another woman I had never met before. Then Marie-Rose informed me we were going to un petit apartment nearby. This seemed mighty secretive to me, but I was willing to go with it. When we got the apartment, Marie-Rose began showing us the apartment; I quickly realized she was going to rent this apartment to the other woman. I waited patiently until she was ready to talk food with me. When she was, she showed me the entire menu, which is themed around poisson because fish is her husband’s favorite food. Thus, the menu items spell out “poisson” down the menu like an acrostic poem. She gave me the choice to make a vegetable dish or buy cheese–I choose the vegetable, salsifis, because I wanted to put in the extra effort, and let’s face it, I have time to spare.

The next day, I saw Christine at the lycée and told her about meeting up with Marie-Rose, pretty much exactly how I just did. Then, I asked her what “salsifis” is. She started laughing and asked me why I wanted to know. I proudly explained that I was given the task of making the salsifis dish for the birthday midi. The look she gave me really clued me in that I should have just bought the cheese. She yelled out to another English teacher to ask her what “salsifis” is in English–neither knew. Bad sign. She reassured me that salsifis is canned so I can find it at the marché, and there are recipes I can find online.

Marie-Rose called me again sometime that week. Initially I thought that she was calling to just tell me to buy the cheese and not worry about preparing this mystery vegetable that doesn’t exist in the USA and may not even have an English word. All I was able to make out from what she was telling me was “photo,” “surprise” and “au revoir.” I still have no idea what this conversation was about.

This Sunday is the day of feasting chez Marie-Rose. I am thinking about making a salsifis curry, but I’m not sure how French that will be. The pressure of preparing this mystery vegetable and making sure it is appropriate for a birthday celebration is daunting, but I will try my best. I can only hope that I don’t receive more phone calls. I cannot wait to see how this all turns out, and I’ll keep you all posted.

Connaissez vous la barbe-de-bouc ?

Consommé dans l’antiquité par les Grecs sous le nom de “barbe-de-bouc”, le salsifis est un légume racine au petit goût proche de l’artichaut ou du panais. Tout comme le scorsonère, une racine à peau noire, il est cultivé dans les terrains sableux du nord de la Picardie et du Loiret et récolté en hiver.

Le salsifis vous veut du bien !

Très peu calorique (moins de 60kcals par portion de 70g) et riche en fibres, ce légume est également un véritable antioxydant. Sa teneur importante en inuline (une fibre alimentaire bénéfique pour le système immunitaire) permettrait de prévenir certains cancers tels que le cancer de l’intestin. Il constitue également une source importante de vitamine B2 (riboflavine) qui aide à la fabrication des globules rouges, à la croissance et à la réparation des tissus.

Mars est la pleine saison du salsifis

La consommation de salsifis frais est de plus en plus rare : il est de plus en plus vendu en bocaux ou surgelé. Le salsifis frais doit être choisi bien ferme pour être garant de sa fraîcheur et conservé dans le bac à légumes du réfrigérateur. Ne tardez pas avant de les consommer  car ils se dessèchent rapidement ! Lors de l’achat, prenez en compte que ceux-ci perdent environ 40 % de leur poids à l'épluchage.

Il est préférable de peler le salsifis une fois cuit afin de mieux en préserver la saveur. Si vous préférez les peler crus, pensez à utiliser des gants ou à enduire vos mains d’huile pour les éplucher car leur jus salit énormément les mains et les rend grisâtres. Dans ce cas, pour éviter qu’ils ne s’oxydent, cuisez-les immédiatement  ou mettez-les à tremper dans de l’eau acidifiée à l’aide de jus de citron ou de vinaigre.

Cuisez-les à l’eau pendant 10 à 15 minutes selon leur grosseur et retirez-les du feu pendant qu’ils sont encore un peu fermes.  Ils peuvent également être cuits à la vapeur si vous craignez qu’ils ne se « défassent » pendant la cuisson.

Nous vous avons donné envie de cuisiner ? Voici quelques recettes simples pour accomoder les salsifis :

Poêlée de salsifis

Une fois cuits, faites revenir les salsifis avec un peu de beurre.  Assaisonnez à votre convenance et servez sans délai.

Potage de salsifis au cresson et aux pommes de terre

Une fois les légumes cuits, mixez-les, ajoutez-y un peu de crème fraîche et saupoudrez de fines herbes avant de servir.

Gratin de salsifis

Mettez les salsifis cuits dans un plat à gratiner. Nappez d’un peu de crème fraîche assaisonnée à votre convenance, saupoudrez de parmesan ou de gruyère râpé et faites gratiner une dizaine de minutes.

Mousse de salsifis

Mixez 500g de salsifis cuits et égouttés. Battez 2 œufs avec 20 cl de crème fraiche, salez et poivrez puis mélangez cette préparation avec les salsifis mixés. Versez le mélange dans des ramequins et enfournez 45 minutes dans un four préchauffé à 180°C (Thermostat 6)

Salsifis Success

Sunday was Jean-Paul’s birthday celebration, and I realize that I may have gotten his name incorrectly last post, Curse those hyphenated first names! This was the midi feast for which I was asked to prepare salsifis, the vegetable I hadn’t heard of before. Salsifies is like a turnip or other root vegetables, but it’s white, longer and thinner than the others. Apparently, its names in English include salsify, oyster root and goat’s beard. As edible as the names make this vegetable sound, it actually is pretty good and not too difficult to make.

So naturally, I waited until Saturday to find the salsifis–the Rodez market is on Sunday and I wanted to make sure the dish was as fresh as it could be. So I woke up, went to the market and there was no salsifis. I had already checked the Intermarché down the hill from me, and there was nothing there either. I was about to walk to Onet-le-Chateau to their Intermarché Super, but I decided to do some research online before dedicating myself to an hour walk and the possibility I would have to walk to a different grocery store afterward. Turns out, Carrefour jars their own cooked salsifis. Perfect.

I decided to make two batches of “salsifis à la crème curry” because, to add to all of the uncertainty, I didn’t know how many people were going to be at the celebration. I also made one batch at a time because I had a fear of making both together, it turning out disgusting and me down four half-liter jars of salsifis. There was really no reason to have fear: it only took cooking onions and an échalote in olive oil, boiling the salsifis in water and the juice of one lemon, combining the two along with cream, curry and nutmeg. Due to the success of the dish, I had to repeat this process a few times to guests who were impressed and inquired after the recipe. Great success!

Like all the Sunday midis I have been invited to, I had a great time. The mystery of what Marie-Rose tried to tell me in the second phone call was solved (she wanted a picture of me to join their other friends under the clear plastic tablecloth), and my nerves were put to rest with the success of the salsifis.

What I especially love about John-Paul and Marie-Rose is the pride they have for their family and friends and the joy they have in sharing it with everyone. I saw pictures of a cousin that lives in Germany and pictures of a girl they know who is living in China, fed their pony and saw their pond of goldfish and koi. Actually, my favorite part of the meal was that it was “poisson” themed, but the only fish served were the chocolates molded into fish shapes. These are the kind, the proud, the Aveyronnais.

The next mystery to solve is what to do with the four jars that remain from the salsifis…

Finally prepped the seed keeping bed at the Community Farm and Food Resource Center at Bartrams Garden, next to the soon-to-be Diaspora garden to the left, and the newly-covered high tunnel. You can see a stand of Luthi Salsify (aka oyster plant) in its second year, ready to go to seed. I direct seeded Black Peanuts (a Gullah variety from the Carolinas), a couple varieties of Bambaras (though the seed is old so cross fingers), Black Garbanzos (I know, I’m late), Teosinte (ancestor of corn), Purple Savoyed Orach, a variety of sunflowers, and some other stuff. More coming soon! #seedkeeping #seedsaving #blackpeanuts #bambaras #orach #salsify #diaspora





お魚とエッグタルトとお酒をいっぱい頂いてきました✨ お気に入りはバカリャウアブラシュ?という鱈とジャガイモの卵とじみたいなのです!(写真3枚目)





Scorzonera hispanica or black salsify is a great vegetable to grow in Wales. It’s perennial, suitable for a permaculture garden. It’s slug resistant and stronger than most weeds. The pretty yellow flowers have a vanilla like smell and produce plenty of viable seeds (contact me closer to the end of summer/early autumn if you want some). Leaves are edible (fresh or cooked) in the spring, the roots you can dig at any time. Peel either before or after cooking. I usually boil or microwave them. On the picture is the spring crop, cooked with leaves - plus salt, spices and olive oil. The taste is nice, similar to other root veg, especially, I think, parsnip and cassava, and normal leafy greens. The black salsify is very easy to grow. I only plant the seeds or separated roots - full stop. And it is nutritios: according to Wikipedia, it’s contains proteins, fats, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, vitamins A, B1, E and C. It tastes sweet because of the glycoside inulin which is a great news for people watching their blood sugar levels. So, here we are - a perfect plant for your garden!

L'héliantis, un légume idéal pour lutter contre les infections
L'héliantis, un légume idéal pour lutter contre les infections
By Chrystelle Camier

L'héliantis, un légume idéal pour lutter contre les infections

Légume oublié à l'instar de son cousin le topinambour, l'héliantis est une plante potagère aujourd'hui méconnue. Elle possède pourtant des propriétés nutritionnelles idéales pour stimuler le système immunitaire en période hivernale.

Originaire d'Amérique du Nord, l'héliantis, également appelée hélianthe scrofuleux ou encore salsifis d'Amérique, tient son nom du grec helios qui signifie « soleil » et anthos qui signifie « fleur ». En effet, cette plante aux immenses tiges surmontées de fleurs jaunes, n'est pas sans rappeler le tournesol. Mais c'est à sa racine, le rhizome tubéreux, que nous allons nous intéresser.

Bienfaits de l'héliantis

Comme la plupart des légumes-racines, l'héliantis est riche en fibres, en minéraux et en oligo-éléments, contribuant ainsi à l'équilibre du transit intestinal. En effet, le potassium qu'elle renferme joue un rôle important dans la digestion, mais également dans la contraction musculaire. L'héliantis contient également de la vitamine B1 qui intervient dans la production d'énergie et la croissance.

Mais l'héliantis est avant tout une excellente source de fer végétal, un minéral essentiel au bon fonctionnement de l'organisme. Notons qu’une carence en fer provoque de la fatigue, une moins bonne résistance aux virus, voire une perte de cheveux. L'héliantis constitue donc un légume d'hiver idéal comportant tous les nutriments nécessaire pour stimuler le système immunitaire et lutter ainsi contre les infections hivernales.

Comment cuisiner l'héliantis ?

L'héliantis est un légume d'hiver. Ses rhizomes tubéreux sont récoltés de novembre à avril. Les rhizomes de l'héliantis se conservent très peu de temps, aussi il est préférable de les cuisiner aussitôt après l'achat ou la récolte. Choisissez des racines lisses et fermes, garantes de fraîcheur. Les racines d'héliantis s'épluchent facilement. Vous pouvez ensuite les cuire à la vapeur, ou bien les émincer pour les faire revenir à la poêle.

Son goût très fin se rapproche de celui du topinambour ou encore de l'artichaut. Il s'accommode aisément en salade, en gratin ou dans toute autre préparation au même titre que la pomme de terre. Avec un peu d'audace et d'imagination, il peut même constituer un succulent dessert.

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April 19, 2015 at 10:24AM
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