Jerusalem Artichokes are neither from Jerusalem nor are they actual artichokes...but these tubers are healthy, delicious, and make an interesting winter staple. Their fiber content fills you up quickly, rendering them cost-effective and easy on the calories—a delectable way to control those pesky extra winter pounds.
What’s In A Name?
This faux artichoke is actually part of the sunflower family. It is native to North America and headed east to Italy, where the name became bastardized. The geographical confusion may have come from the Italian word girasole, which means sunflower, but could sound like the old city. And the name artichoke—well, when cooked, this root vegetable has the perception of richness and fattiness associated with artichoke or avocado. The good news is it comes with none of the fat associated with those foods. But wait, there’s more: The sunchoke, as it is commonly named, is high in fiber, potassium, and iron, and possesses no starch, making it ideal for the low-carb diet.
Add Crunch To Cooking.
Sunchokes can be enjoyed raw or cooked. Slice them into a salad for a water chestnut or jicama effect. Sautée them in a bit of oil for crunchy “chips” to top a dish or to enjoy as an iron-packed snack. Even when sliced and baked in my sunchoke and sweet potato gratin, the ‘chokes maintain a nutty flavored crunch for texture, while the spuds turn almost creamy and custardy.
Evade The Elements.
Like potatoes and apples, sunchokes oxidize quickly when exposed to the air. Once you slice your tuber, if you’re not going to use it right away submerge it in water, just like you would a potato. FYI: These artichokes do not like to be in contact with aluminum or iron. They rebel by turning grey.
Create Creamy Goodness.
The sunchoke is a chameleon; transforming into a silky soup or puree when peeled and simmered in liquid. If you scrub them and roast them in their peel, they yield little crispy nuggets with creamy innards, putting the everyday baked potato to shame.
Sunchoke And Sweet Spud Gratin.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 65 minutes
1 tsp olive oil
1 pound Jerusalem Artichokes, scrubbed, roughly peeled if needed, and thinly sliced (1/8 inch)
1 ½ pounds (2 medium) sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (1/8 inch)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Fresh ground Szechwan pepper or black pepper
¾ cup chicken stock
¼ cup half and half
1 oz parmesan cheese, finely grated
Preheat oven to 375F. Use oil to grease a deep but small casserole dish.
Line the bottom of the dish with sunchokes. Sprinkle a bit of salt, pepper, and neg over the layer. Create a layer of sweet potatoes and repeat with spices. Sprinkle a bit of the parmesan cheese over the sweet potatoes. Alternate layers of sunchokes and spuds with light sprinkles of spices and cheese. Save some cheese for the top layer. Pour the liquids over dish. Finish by sprinkling cheese over the top.
Bake, covered, for about 35 minutes, until sunchokes are tender. Uncover and continue to bake until browned and bubbling, about 20 minutes. This dish reheats very well.