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Scorzonera – “Winter Asparagus”

Scorzonera or black salsify is not a particularly good-looking vegetable with its dark, earthy skin.

Rewards from inner qualities

If you are not put off by the outer layer, you will be rewarded by its inner qualities. In comparison to other types of vegetable, scorzonera is especially rich in vitamin E, which protects the body's cells from harmful free radicals. It also contains various B vitamins, iron, potassium and magnesium, which all have a positive effect. The vegetable is also very suitable for diabetics: the carbohydrate inulin is only digested when it reaches the large intestine and therefore does not cause the blood sugar level to rise.

Intense flavour, versatile to use

In terms of taste, scorzonera is a delicacy that is sometimes called “winter asparagus” and it can certainly hold its own with this fine vegetable. However, the flavour is a lot more intense and very aromatic with a slight nutty note.

 

For a classic scorzonera vegetable dish, boil the sticks for 15 to 20 minutes in salted water and season with butter, lemon juice and a little salt and pepper. If you prefer it al dente, you can cook the roots for just 8 minutes and then brown them in olive oil. Scorzonera can also be used raw in salads - try it with apples, nuts and carrots. Grate the sticks and mix with lemon juice, yoghurt and fresh herbs.

How to prepare

Scorzonera belongs to the daisy family and is native to Spain. The root has a dark brown to black, corky bark-like skin and can be cleaned like a carrot. First, remove any remains of soil under a running tap with a vegetable brush. A milky sap comes out when they are peeled, which stains fabrics and hands. This can be prevented by wearing an apron and disposable gloves. Place the peeled and scraped roots directly into lemon or vinegar water to retain their lovely white colour. Before boiling in salted water, cut them into roughly 5 cm lengths.

 

If you fancy trying fresh scorzonera you will find it at the market from September to April. The flesh should not be woody or fibrous. Scorzonera can be kept in the vegetable compartment of a refrigerator packed in damp kitchen towel for one to two weeks.

 

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.bzfe.de