They have but a fleeting season, yet my love for Jerusalem artichokes is very strong and probably althemore intense because of it. From November onwards I will look out for them on the market stalls and supermarket shelves and this year they arrived very late, close to Christmas only... It happens to me on regular basis that people will notice them in my trolley or at the check-out and ask what they are and what to do with them... to be honest, I think they're just as versatile as any vegetable really, do with them whatever you'd typically do with a tuber: boil and mash, make a soup, possibly a gratin like the one my friend Pille just published or a quiche... there are many ways of savouring this deliciously nutty root and I'll point you to a couple of older recipes below.
The best thing is that jerusalem artichokes don't just have a wonderfully addictive flavour, they're also incredibly good for you, containing large amounts of fruto-oligo-saccharides (or FOS to their friends) that will help maintain a healthy gut and thus strengthen your immune system... you know you could do with a little bit of that, right?
The recipe I want to introduce to you now is a simple salad. A great starter in the winter, best served lukewarm. Although our Cookbook Cook Club has got a bit lazy in meeting up (that's not entirely true, the reason is rather that two of the main pillars of our congregation have families and the other two are jet-setting individuals who can't for the life of them coordinate their holidays), we enjoyed a lovely winter gathering with the theme of comfort food. A slice of toasted sourdough topped with a wintery salad seemed a perfect way to start a dinner - it's incredibly easy to assemble, the jerusalem artichokes are simply roasted in the oven, the tomatoes go in with them for a little while as well, and the whole affair is topped with rocket salad, crumbly feta cheese and agresto. For those of you who, like us, are new to this concept, agresto is an Italian sauce/dressing made from walnuts, lemon peel and juice, garlic, chilli, anchovies parsley and olive oil. It goes incredibly well with the sunchokes because it not only complements their nutty flavour, but also cuts though the mellow sweetness of the vegetable.
Other recipes with Jerusalem artichokes that you might like:
Seared scallops on jerusalem artichoke puree with crispy pancetta (March 2007)
Jerusalem artichoke risotto with scallops (January 2006)
(serves 4 as a starter or light main)
12 jerusalem artichokes
1 tbsp ghee**
12 plum tomatoes
2 handfuls ruccola (rocket salad)
200 g feta or other goat's cheese
4 thick slices of rustic sourdough bread
drizzle of good olive oil
For the agresto:
2 anchovy fillets
1 clove garlic
1 red chilli (seeded and chopped roughly)
1 bunch (ca. 40g) parsley leaves
zestand juice of 1 lemon
20 ml top-quality extra virgin olive oil
First, prepare the agresto. This will keep in the fridge for a week should you have any left over.
Crack the walnuts to extract the nuts, making sure you get rid of any hard, fibrous bits and certainly all the shell. Place the walnuts in a small bowl, top with hot water and leave to soak for about 30 minutes.
Combine all ingredients apart from the olive oil in a food processor, chop finely. Add the olive oil in a little trickle, constantly blending.
Clean the jerusalem artichokes thoroughly, pat dry, then butter a casserole or roasting tin, and place the sunchokes inside. brush them or roll them in ghee, then season generously with salt and pepper.
Roast in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes, then add the tomatoes and cook for a further 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast the sourdough slices and give them a drizzle of olive oil. Lay down on individual plates, then dress the vegetables, rocket and feta on top of it, finishing off with a tablespoon or two of agresto.* Based on a recipe by Skye Gyngell.
** the original uses olive oil, but when i need to roast or otherwise heat fat, I tend to go for ghee which is a healthier choice.
*** the recipe specified fresh walnuts, which I haven't been able to find. to mimick their "wetter" texture, I soak regular walnuts in hot water for a little while.