This root vegetable is also known as oyster plant because its taste resembles a delicately flavored oyster with nuances of artichoke hearts. The parsnip-shaped vegetable can reach up to 12 inches in length and 2½ inches in diameter. Salsify (also called white salsify) has a tan-colored skin and off-white flesh. It's forked and has myriad tiny rootlets. The so-called black salsify is actually a root relative called scorzonera. It's long, relatively straight, and has a dark brown and cream-colored flesh. Though salsify is more popular in Europe than in the United States, it can be found here from fall through spring in some Spanish, Italian, Greek and produce markets. Choose well-formed roots that are firm, heavy for their size and fairly smooth. Refrigerate, wrapped in a plastic bag, up to 2 weeks; peel before using. Salsify is generally eaten plain as a vegetable (raw or cooked), or used in savory pies and soups.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.