Thursday, 20 November 2014

Back to Black

Farfalle alla Scorzonera, Zafferano & Zenzero
Farfalle with Black Salsify, Saffron & Ginger


Everybody loves pasta, it is one of the most loved foods in the world and enjoyed daily by rich and poor alike, in any number of variations. In fact, chances are that you have already eaten pasta at least once this week... possibly even today.

But what about black salsify, eh? When is the last time you had THAT? Not very often, if ever I would guess!

Because I would say that is is probably as far from something that everyone eats on a regular basis as you can get... although they probably would eat it a lot more often if they gave it a try!


Well, it's called "black salsify", but it's white on the inside, and has a very mild, almost white-asparagus-like flavor... it's a whole lot nicer tasting than it is pleasant looking and that's for sure!


So, to make 2 nice restaurant servings- or one man-size serving :-) I needed 3 small salsify roots, 1 small carrot (or half of a regular one), 1/2 stick of celery, 1 Spring onion, about 1" of fresh ginger, a good pinch of saffron and some fresh parsley and thyme. And a good pat of butter and a glug of fresh milk! Oh- and of course my pasta of choice! Which happened to be lovely little farfalle this evening...


Yes, yes, there was about a tablespoonful of butter in this dish- but otherwise, no other fat, no cheese, just some low-fat, regular old milk and the yummy and aromatic vegetables and spices... so it was healthy as it was delicious! Salsify itself has next-to-no calories at all... and that just makes this whole thing even better still!


Ok- first things first... peeling and chopping time! Peel the salsify as quickly as you can- it can be a bit messy, so I did so right over a couple of old sheets of newspaper. It tends to be a little sticky under the peel- so be warned! Work quickly and rinse it in water straight away and it's not too much bother. You can dunk it in lemon water and all that if you want to to stop it turning brown... but I didn't let that worry me too much- especially as I was going to be adding saffron to it later!

Slice the Spring onion finely and chop the carrot, celery and ginger into the finest dice that you can... and yes- chop those parsley stalks up too!


Put the salsify into a saucepan of well-salted boiling water and let it bubble away for 1 minutes and in the meantime, cook the finely diced vegetables down, along with the thyme in a half teaspoon of butter, until they all become soft and tender.


After 10 minutes, remove the salsify from the saucepan and pop it into your frying pan... and pop your pasta into the saucepan to take its place and boil it for 5-6 minutes.


In the meantime, add enough milk to the frying pan to cover the base, add a good pinch of saffron, give it a good stir and let it gently bubble away until the pasta is half done.

After 5-6 minutes, drain the pasta, add it to the frying pan, top up with a little more milk and let it continue simmering for a further 3-4 minutes.

In that time, the combined starch of the pasta and the salsify, will thicken the milk into a nice sauce, filled with all of the great flavors of all those nice vegetables, the ginger and the saffron- terrific!


Add the finely chopped parsley, the other half tablespoon of butter, toss together and serve with some freshly ground pepper... it's a simple as that!


What a feast for the taste buds as well as for the eyes! I hope you all give it a try- and I hope you enjoy!


Buon appetito indeed!

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