Keep salsify in cold water as the pieces are cut, because the flesh discolors easily.

The charm of the underappreciated salsify lies in its delicate sweet taste. In this gratin, thin slices of salsify are baked with shiitake mushrooms and shallots in a cheese sauce that becomes crispy on top.

Yield:
24 (4-ounce) portions
Preparation time:
1¼ hours, plus 30 minutes
unattended baking
Shelf life:
at least 3 days

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds salsify, trimmed
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter
  • 10 ounces shiitake mushroom caps, stemmed, wiped and sliced
  • 3 ounces shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3¾ pints half-and-half
  • 1½ tablespoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 12 ounces grated Gruyère
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/3 cup panko crumbs

Method

  1. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Have ready a food processor fitted with a 4 mm slicing blade. Peel and trim salsify; cut it crosswise into thirds and return it to the water. Working in batches, stack the pieces vertically and slice crosswise. Return it to the water.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large heavy pot, melt half of the butter over medium-high heat. Stir in mushrooms and saute until they begin to soften, 1 to 2 minutes. Add hallots and remaining butter and cook for a minute longer. Sprinkle flour on top and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour in half-and-half and bring to a boil, whisking until the mixture has thickened. Do not let it brown. Add salt, nutmeg and pepper.Drain the salsify, dry well, transfer it to the pot and cook over medium heat until tender, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Pour salsify mixture into a deep half-sheet pan. Drizzle Gruyère on top and bake in the upper third of the oven until cheese has melted and is bubbling. Sprinkle on parmesan and panko, run the gratin under the broiler until top is golden brown. Remove, let stand for 15 minutes, cut into 24 portions and serve.

Nutritional Data (per 4-ounce portion): Calories: 170; Cholesterol: 25 mg;
Sodium: 450 mg;
Fat: 9 g; Dietary Fiber: 3 g

Ingredient Cost Sheet

Ingredients Cost
4 pounds trimmed salsify $6.55-11.05
3 ounces unsalted butter $.45-.75
10 ounces stemmed, wiped, sliced shiitake mushroom caps $5.87-9.78
3 ounces finely chopped shallots $.59-.99
1/3 cup all-purpose flour $.06-.10
3.75 pints half & half $5.83-9.71
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg $.14-.07
½ teaspoon round white pepper
12 ounces grated Gruyere $5.85-9.74
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese $2.47-4.12
1/3 cup panko $.15-.25