Jerusalem Artichokes

The Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) is also called the sunroot, sunchoke, earth apple or topinambour. 

Despite its name, the Jerusalem artichoke has no relation to Jerusalem and it is not a type of artichoke, even though both are members of the daisy family. The origin of the name is uncertain. Italian settlers in the USA called the plant girasole, the Italian word for sunflower because of its resemblance to the garden sunflower. Over time the name girasole may have been changed to Jerusalem. To avoid confusion, some people have recently started to refer to it as sunchoke or sunroot.

The artichoke part of the Jerusalem artichoke's name comes from the taste of its edible tuber. Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer, sent the first samples of the plant to France, noting that its taste was similar to an artichoke.

Jerusalem artichokes were first cultivated by the Native Americans long before the arrival of the Europeans; this extensive cultivation obscures the exact native range of the species. The Jerusalem artichoke was titled 'best soup vegetable' in the 2002 Nice festival for the heritage of the French cuisine.

These potato-like tubers are quite the versatile vegetable. They offer an alternative and unique flavour to dishes, and surprisingly have lots of nutritious health benefits! Very versatile:

  1. Can be eaten raw or cooked
  2. They have a delicate sweetness and nutty flavour that is very refreshing, their crispness resembles a water chestnut
  3. Low calorie
  4. Very nutritious: great source of Iron, Potassium and Vitamin C
  5. Unpeeled, they provide maximum nutrition
  6. 1/2 cup serving contains about 14% of the daily value for iron, compared with approximately 4% in the same sized portion of baked potato.
  7. A good potato-substitute for potato-loving people with diabetes or for anyone looking to help control their appetites by eating foods that don’t cause major spikes in their blood sugar levels

Pan-Fried Jerusalem Artichokes in Sage Butter      

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound Jerusalem artichokes,* scrubbed, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely torn fresh sage leaves, divided
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

Preparation

Melt 1 tablespoon butter with olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add Jerusalem artichokes and half of sage. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until brown and just beginning to soften, turning frequently, about 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer Jerusalem artichokes to shallow serving bowl. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and sage to skillet; fry until sage darkens and begins to crisp, about 30 seconds. Add lemon juice; simmer 1 minute. Pour lemon-sage butter over Jerusalem artichokes in bowl, tossing to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley.


Escarole Salad  Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 heads escarole , tough outer green leaves removed, remaining leaves torn into bite-sized pieces  (we will have some at the market this week, but you can also use the salad mix)
  • 5 sunchokes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup blanched whole almonds, toasted and ground or finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup coarsely grated Tuscan caciotta or cacio di Roma
  • 6 tablespoons lemon vinaigrette
  • Maldon or other flaky salt and coarsely ground black pepper

Soak the escarole endive in a bowl of cool water for 10 minutes to crisp it. Drain and spin dry. Combine the sunchokes, almonds, and cheese in a large bowl, tossing to mix. Add the escarole, tossing gently. Drizzle with half the vinaigrette, tossing to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and serve with the remaining vinaigrette on the side.

Cream of Jerusalem Artichoke Soup Makes enough for 8 teacups

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 pound Jerusalem artichokes (washed, sliced 1/4-inch thick)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup cream
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped chive

Preparation

Melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan over high heat, add the garlic and onion and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the Jerusalem artichokes and sauté about 2 minutes. Add the stock and simmer until the chokes are tender. Add the cream and bring back to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Purée in a blender until smooth. Strain through fine sieve. Keep warm. Sprinkle with the chive. Serve.