Eat Well: Jerusalem Artichokes

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks mom!
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During my two-month stay with Rebecca and family, I loved walking to the farmer’s market every Sunday. Where I live, you can’t walk to anything except the local high school and two small strip malls, so skipping down artsy shop-lined streets pulling a market basket and ending up at a village farmer’s market more than satisfied my romantic cravings. (You can imagine how exciting it is for me to know that the family is in escrow in the SAME NEIGHBORHOOD!!! Jumping up and down over here at house WWW.) Now that I’m home, every time I ask Rebecca when would be a good time to visit, Rebecca replies “any day, but if you come on Sunday we can go to the farmer’s market together,” and I tingle with excitement… grandchildren AND romantic skipping to the village market!

Several Sundays ago, we visited the family and of course went to the farmer’s market. I wandered to the stand where I had bought pea tendrils last October and gleefully spied a mound of Jerusalem artichokes. I bought several pounds and triumphantly returned to Rebecca who was buying her cage-free eggs several stands down.

“I’m so excited!! Look what I found!” I gushed. (I have a tendency to gush…a lot. It’s kind of a family joke.)

“OHMYGODTHEYAREJERUSALEMARTICHOKES!” I squealed.

I proudly opened my bag filled with the homely tubers. Rebecca looked unimpressed.

“They’re the best thing EVER!”

That night about 30 minutes into our trip home I began fantasizing about the amazing meal I would prepare with my Jerusalem artichokes. And that’s when it hit me…I had left my bounty in Rebecca’s refrigerator. I immediately called her with my unhappy news.

“Rebecca, you have to PROMISE me that you will cook them this week or I'll be so sad.” I wanted someone in the family to experience the joy of my find. I told her exactly how to cook them and the next evening she called me.

“Mom, I made the artichoke things and they were UH. MAY. ZING. I MEAN..."

We returned to LA a couple of Sundays later and of course I bought more Jerusalem artichokes. This time when we returned to Rebecca’s home, I immediately put them in my car.
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Jerusalem artichokes are neither from Jerusalem nor are they artichokes. They are the tuber (root) of a North American weed that is a species of sunflower. They are super easy to grow but you have to be careful as they are very invasive. Also called “sun chokes” or “sun roots,” they look like a cross between a potato and ginger but knobbier than both. Sun chokes are high in iron (1 cup serving contains 28% of your minimum daily requirements of iron), high in potassium and B vitamins, and low in calories and carbohydrates. And they're simply delicious!

When I was little, my mother used to cook them along with potatoes around a roast. But now I love them tossed in good extra virgin olive oil, herbs, and salt and pepper and then roasted in the oven. When cooked they become buttery inside and have a flavor that is sweet and similar to an artichoke (hence the name). You can mash them like potatoes, add them to soups, or eat them raw in salads, as a snack, or with a dip. You don’t have to peel them…just wash them well, being careful to clean out the dirt that gets stuck around the knobby parts, dry them, and cook!

Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes
1 1b Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed and dried
2 T extra virgin olive oil
Fresh or dried herbs such as thyme, tarragon, sage, or rosemary
2 chopped garlic cloves (optional)
1 thinly sliced onion (optional)
Freshly ground salt and pepper

Either slice Jerusalem artichokes into ¼ inch slices or put them whole into a shallow baking pan. Toss with oil, herbs, garlic and onion (if desired) and salt and pepper. Roast at 425 for 20-30 minutes, turning once, if sliced, or about 40 minutes if whole.
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Note: Rebecca likes them crunchy and I like them soft, so you can decide which you like better and adjust the cooking time accordingly.
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Postscript: Last night I made the cilantro/arugula pesto again (I am obsessed with it!) and served it over spaghetti squash, which I had baked in the oven, mixed with a small amount of Montebello Strozzapreti pasta (my new favorite pasta). It was AMAZING. Mixing some pasta in with the spaghetti squash gave the meal a little more texture and substance than if I had only served the pesto with the squash alone. (I used one serving worth of pasta for a three serving meal). Tonight we had the pesto in baked potatoes. OH MY GOSH YUM.

Love,

WWW

22 comments:

Sascha | 11:33 AM

Yum, I am always up for trying something new, as long as I have a picture of the *unfamiliar* ingredient (Jerusalem artichoke) and a recipe! Thank you for both! Also, I am going to make the cilantro/arugala pesto per your suggestion of pairing with spaghetti squash. I was just going to cook the 2 squash i have and put a red sauce over it, but the pesto sounds amazing!

Emma (Glitter and Gold) | 11:34 AM

Wow those do not look appetizing but the way your mum describes them they sound delicious. I must try! oh and by the way your mum is freaking hilariously cute!!!! love your blog and honesty. Stop by if you have some time
www.glitterandgoldblog.blogspot.com

Sarah@PingsAndNeedles | 11:42 AM

Jerusalem artichokes are my favourite favourite veg ever.

However, and I do think you should warn people ... you will fart World-Record-Breakingly!!

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 11:47 AM

HA HA HA HA, SARAH! I almost added an addendum stating just that very thing. Delicious but, yeah, fart city.

Jadzia@Toddlerisms | 11:48 AM

I used to be able to walk to the Hollywood Farmers' Market and it is still the thing I miss the MOST about living in LA. We would go there with our little-old-lady rolling cart and buy so many vegetables that we were asked more than once if we were chefs. : ) (I wish!)

Tove | 12:36 PM

I loooove Jerusalem artichokes, especially in soups with some potatoes, cream and white wine. Delish!

D. Marie | 12:44 PM

I'm so glad someone wrote about these. I watched an old episode of Chuck's Day Off on Cooking Channel, and he cooked these with chicken, truffles and sage. I must try.

Little Miss Moi | 1:52 PM

I've never had them (not sure they are all that common in Australia) but my friend from the UK calls them Jerusalem Fartichokes.

Katie | 2:01 PM

oh wow, they are homely little guys, aren't they? but they sound delicious! i'll haver to grab some next time i'm at the market. :)

Lila | 4:09 PM

Middle-Easterners pickle these in vinger. They become crunchy and very tasty accompaniments to eat with one's meals!

Allison the Meep | 6:19 PM

I love your posts, WWW! Always inspiring.

Anonymous | 9:10 PM

I love Jerusalem artichokes, except they give me vicious gas!!! It's all the inulin, great if you have high blood sugar but the gas pain...not sure if it's worth it...

Marquesa Jen | 8:31 AM

I am so glad you posted this, I saw these at the store a few days ago and they looked neat, but since we're about to move I didn't want to delve into a new exploration (that and I HATE my current kitchen), but now that I know they're easy to prep I might buy some this week :D

Thanks!

Amy K | 8:55 AM

When I was a kid in Missouri, our neighbors planted these one year and ended up with more than they knew what to do with, so they gave us a giant basket of them. Neither of my parents had any idea how to use them, so I just started peeling them and ate them raw, like crunchy potatoes but with a better flavor. I'll have to see if I can get my hands on some in Seattle now that I know there are other things you can do with them!

chesapeake | 9:04 AM

Every time I ask myself "How is Rebecca so freaking awesome" a WWW post arrives on my screen and suddenly I remember.

Those look like really flavorful roasted potatoes and I think I could eat a whole plate right this second. Will keep an eye out for sure! Thank you again for providing such great info to people like me+my family (GF, egg free, soy free, dairy free). :-D

The Lindsey Family | 9:11 AM

WWW is the cutest person ever. The gushing? SO infectious!

What a beautiful family!

Briana | 9:36 AM

I made the pesto, and we used it in place of pizza sauce on our own homemade pizzas. It was great!

Nina | 1:09 PM

I get some all winter in my CSA basket in France and freaking love them, especially their little hazelnut after-taste. But when I told my mom and grandma though, they made a disgusted face! My grandma ate TONS during WWII when food restrictions made potatoes and other carbs very hard to find, just like they replaced coffee with roasted chicory. So understandably she hates it. For 2 generations, Jerusalem artichokes went almost extinct in Western Europe until "heritage veggies" and healthy, organic eating became popular again. Funny how the wind turns.

Anonymous | 2:17 PM

Something about your comments makes me hear Marie's voice from "Everybody Loves Raymond" in my head when I read them.
This particular time, it could be the way you refer to your daughter, her husband, and their children as "the family," although to be fair, Marie would just call them all "the kids."

Micheline Ludwick | 11:45 AM

Just picked some up at our farmers' market and I'm so excited to cook them tonight! Thanks once again for the inspiration, WWW!

Melanie | 8:19 PM

Your mom needs to write more often! I've gotten such an education from her...thank you!!!!

Abbie | 9:59 PM

we made these for dinner... on valentines... LORD HAVE MERCY, the gas. totally delicious, but not recommended for, uh, romantic consumption.