The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks mom!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.
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.
Note: Rebecca likes them crunchy and I like them soft, so you can decide which you like better and adjust the cooking time accordingly.
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.