Oyster Plant Root with Radish, Turnip and Ramson Vinaigrette

What I really like about my new local market(s) is that there are not only stalls specialized in e.g. potatoes, apples or fish, but also a lot of regional organic farmers selling their excellent seasonal produce. Local organic food has several advantages. For example no manufactured fertilizers or pesticides are used for growing the plants. This requires more attention and work from the farmer, which in the end really makes a difference in taste. Since the farms are located in a 50-100km radius around Berlin, the produce is absolutely regional. The offered range of produce is both limited and rich at the same time: limited due to seasonality, and rich due to cultivating old species and a wide range of varieties.

I’ve encountered the oyster plant roots at one of these organic farmer’s market stalls. This vegetable looks like a really hairy, dirty and thin root. Because it is so thin, I only removed the root hairs and carefully scraped the surface of the roots using a relatively dull knife. The scraped surface of the root tends to turn brown quickly, so it’s advised to boil or steam the roots right after peeling them. I would not recommend this root to be served raw, since it has a slightly bitter taste. Its raw taste also reminded me of liquorice. During cooking the bitter taste evaporates, so when heated the oyster plant root tastes like a mixture of black salsify and corn. In this current dish I paired the oyster plant root with turnip, black spanish and radish.

Oyster Plant Root with Radish, Turnip and Ramson Vinaigrette

Since I like to utilize all edible parts of a plant, I prepared a pesto from the turnip and radish greens, which served as a kind of a bed for the vegetables on the plate. Both radish roots and their leaves work perfectly with sunflower seeds, so I replaced the classic pine nuts with sunflower seeds and good quality sunflower oil. A garlic clove might have been too intense for this pesto, so I used the green stem of a fresh garlic bulb. Additionally, I blanched all greens to prevent my pesto from turning brown.

For plating the dish I used a few purslane leaves as decoration, which I sourced from the same organic farmer at the market. Both the oyster plant root and the radishes were quite sweet, so I balanced them with a slightly spicy ramson vinaigrette. The vinaigrette also helped to brighten the flavors and balance the oil and the butter. Instead of butter, the vegetables can be prepared using vegetable oil (e.g. rapeseed or sunflower oil) as well. The dish also works well as a side for grilled or confit char or trout.

Oyster Plant Root with Radish, Turnip and Ramson Vinaigrette

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 4 portions

Oyster Plant Root with Radish, Turnip and Ramson Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 4 oyster plant roots
  • 2 black spanish radishes
  • 2 bunches radishes (with greens)
  • 1 turnip (with greens)
  • 1 green stem of a fresh garlic bulb
  • 50 g sunflower seeds
  • 3-4 tbsp fresh extra virgin olive oil
  • 50 ml + 3 tbsp good quality sunflower seed oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 20 ramson leaves
  • small handful purslane
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • salt
  • butter

Instructions

For the radish and turnip leaf pesto
Trim the greens from the turnip and the radishes. Discard the thick turnip stems. Clean the leaves thoroughly in cold water and change the water several times. Blanch in boiling salted water for 10 seconds, strain and immediately chill in ice water. Strain and gently squeeze the leaves to remove some of their water content.
Cut the green garlic stem in half lengthwise and discard the outer dry layer. Blanch in boiling salted water for 45 seconds, strain and chill in ice water. Strain.
Chop the blanched greens roughly. Blend with 50g sunflower seeds, 50ml good quality sunflower seed oil and 3-4 tbsp fresh extra virgin olive oil to a smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small jar, cover with some oil and keep refrigerated until needed.
For the oyster plant root
Clean the oyster plant roots in cold water. Remove the small hairs. Carefully scrape roots outer layer using a dull knife. After cleaning the roots immediately transfer them to boiling salted water to prevent them from becoming brown. Cook until they are al dente (this depends both on the thickness of the roots as well as their storage time). When cooked, strain and chill in ice water.
For the radishes and turnips
Wash and peel the black radish and the turnip. Cut 8 cylinders from the black radish using an apple core remover. Cut the turnip into 1cm thick slices and cut thin slices using a vegetable peeler. Use the remaining black radish and turnip for another purpose (e.g. ferment it).
Wash the red radishes and cut into 6-8 wedges.
For the ramson vinaigrette
Wash the ramson leaves and shake dry. Chop finely and add to a small jar with 3 tbsp sunflower seed oil, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar and a pinch of salt. Cover and shake until well combined. Keep refrigerated until needed.
For the purslane
Wash the purslane in cold water and dry on kitchen paper. Fold into wet cold kitchen paper and refrigerate.
To serve
Melt 2 tbsp butter in a pan. Add the black radish tubes, season with salt and bathe in the foaming butter for 5-6 minutes. Add the blanched oyster plant roots and bathe for 1-2 minutes, until warmed through. Finally, add the turnip slices and the radish wedges and just get them hot. Season with salt.
Spread 1 tbsp radish leaf pesto on warm plates. Add 1 oyster plant root on the pesto and surround it with 2 black radish tubes, radish wedges and turnip slices. Decorate with a few purslane leaves and sprinkle with a few tsp ramson vinaigrette.
http://mybites.de/2013/04/oyster-plant-root-with-radish-turnip-and-ramson-vinaigrette/