Yesterday, you learned about the root vegetable, Salsify. Today is one of my favorite recipes for using Salsify. If you do not wish to harvest your own Salsify roots, it can be found canned in many specialty stores, especially at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg, Kentucky (they also offer it online at their website, Shaker Village Kentucky for $3.95 a can).
Creamy Salsify Gratin
• 3 pounds salsify (or 2 cans)
• 2 TBSP unsalted butter
• 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
• 1 quart half-and-half
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Handful of finely chopped basil
• Freshly grated nutmeg
• 1/4 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1 cup)
• 1/4 pound Swiss cheese, shredded (1 cup)
• Fill a large bowl with water. Peel the salsify and trim the ends (or use straight from the can). Transfer the salsify to the water as you peel it. Using a mandolin or the slicing blade in a food processor, slice the salsify 1/4 inch thick. Return the salsify to the water to keep it white.
• In a large soup pot, melt the butter.
• Add the flour and cook over moderate heat for 2 minutes, whisking constantly.
• Add the half-and-half and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking, for about 3 minutes, or until the half-and-half is slightly thickened.
• Season with salt, pepper, basil and nutmeg.
• Drain the salsify and pat it completely dry. Add the salsify to the pot and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, 25 to 30 minutes (cook only 5 minutes if using from a can; it will already be cooked).
• Preheat the oven to 400° and position a rack in the upper third.
• Pour the salsify mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and sprinkle with the cheeses.
• Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the gratin is bubbling.
• Preheat the broiler and broil the gratin for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and crusty.
• Let the gratin stand for 10 minutes before serving.