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A Farmer’s Market Find: Crosnes

(post, Sanura Weathers)

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Getting up early last Saturday was the opportunity to go to the farmer’s market in the city. It was a nice winter warm day of walking pass stalls and creating a menu in my head for next week. Before it became too crowded, I was exiting the market with a heavy bag of Savoy cabbage, spicy turkey sausage, a smoked turkey wing to be placed in the freezer for Southern-style collard greens, gold rush apples, freshly baked pretzels as a low-fat snack, apple cider, and crosnes.

Stachys affinis, the Chinese artichoke, chorogi, knotroot, or artichoke betony are a few alternative titles for this starchy root introduced as crosnes {pronounced crow’nz}. It’s a rare find in the United States, but it is common in France. After being introduced to European culture from China around the 19th century, it was renamed after an area around Paris, called Crosnes. Researching the vegetable online, I learned it was a welcome addition into French cuisine by sautéing it in butter or adding it to cream to make a gratin dish. At the stall where the tiny root was sold, a woman swooned at the first sight of seeing her beloved crosnes, for it reminded her of France. I happened to arrive in the last week of its yearly American appearance. The fancy heirloom vegetable that is related to the mint family, although visually it is difficult to see how, was costly at $16.00 per pound. I decided to purchase a quarter pound and hoped it did not sit at the bottom of the refrigerator, forgotten among familiar vegetables.

Going to the farmer’s market and discovering unusual produce, especially heirloom varieties, is an educational mind treat. Using unfamiliar vegetables in dishes is what makes eating healthy more interesting. My worries of not using crosnes were pacified when I needed a quick dinner the same day. The sign at the stall in the farmer’s market that lured me to the root read it has a similar taste to jicama. Thinking of what ingredients were in the kitchen, the idea of making a healthy Mexican salad was created. Without being an overpowering taste to the many flavors in the salad, crosnes added a slight refreshing nutty flavor. Jicama will substitute in the abstinence of crosnes the next time this salad is made, which will be in the summer.

Get the recipe mentioned above using crosnes at My Life Runs on Food