Tapas Off the Beaten Track: Black Salsify in Black Sesame Crust

This is part of my tapas „series“ which is meant to collect a number of recipes for tapas and mezze that are a bit off the beaten track. This post stars black salsify, a rather ancient heritage food which always used to feature on my mother’s vegetable platter when she had dinner guests when I was a child. We rather rarely ate it on any other occasions, but I actually always liked it a lot, and for the reasons already mentioned, I associate it with my childhood home.

Over recent years, I have often walked by the intensely colored root on the markets, although it never actually occurred to me that I might make a dish with it. Until recently. Cyrus and me were standing at a market stall that was offering black salsify and the conversation somehow got to the point where Cyrus revealed that he had never had it and actually did not know what it was. So there seemed to be only on course of action 😉

In the meantime, Cyrus has become a fan of „winter asparagus“ (or, less flatteringly, „asparagus of the poor man“) as Germans sometimes call the black root with the white flesh. And it does not always have to come a vegetable side. This tapas suggestion comes with a flavorful sesame crust and can be served with or without a dip (e.g. we recently made a simple dip from yogurt, dijon mustard and some Aji for a bit of spice). Enjoy!




  • 3 black salsify (scorzonera) roots, approx. 15 cm long
  • approx. 100 grams of black sesame seed
  • 50 grams of bread crumbs
  • 100 grams of flour
  • 1 egg
  • salt
  • 1/2 lemon
  • dash of lemon juice


  1. Wash and peel the black salsify. Use thin kitchen gloves for handing the black salsify as it is very sticky. If required, wash again after peeling. In order to prevent the black salsify from turning brown, rub with the lemon half immediately after peeling.
  2. Cut into approx. 3 cm long pieces.
  3. Bring water to the boil, lightly salt and add a dash of lemon juice. Boil for 6 minutes then strain.
  4. Roast the sesame seed without any added fat in a non-stick pan on medium to high heat. Keep tossing and be a bit careful, it burns easily. When the sesame starts developing aroma, keep roasting for another 30 seconds to 1 minutes, then take off the heat. Let cool down.
  5. Whisk the egg.
  6. Mix the sesame seeds with the bread crumbs.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 165 degrees Celsius (fan oven).
  8. Roll the black salsify pieces first in the flour, then in the egg and then coat with the sesame and bread crumb mix. Place in an oven dish.
  9. Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Then increase the temperature to 180 degrees Celsius and continue baking for another 5 minutes.
  10. Let cool down again and serve warm.


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