Raw Sunchokes (also called Jerusalem Artichokes) ready for cooking
Full Sized sunchoke plants! Our (tall) friend James is standing with the plants
Sauteed Sunchokes with Sunflower Seeds
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
I found that peeling the 'chokes was easiest with a sharp paring knife. Scrubbing them was also easy, you can decide which you prefer. It might depend on what you want your final dish to look like. A rustic saute that will be sprinkled with seeds and parsley doesn't really need the pure white of peeled sunchokes; a creamy white soup might want the roots to be peeled. -Jonathan M
1 1/2 pounds sunchokes (also called Jerusalem artichokes), sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
2 tablespoons sunflower seed oil, or other high heat oil such as peanut or grapeseed
S & P to taste
3 Tablespoons sunflower seeds, toasted
2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
Saute the sunchokes in the oil in a large skillet over high heat until lightly browned and tender but still a bit crisp. Taste them as they cook; they can be done in 5 minutes or as many as 10 minutes. Season to taste with S & P, add the sunflower seeds, parsley, and thyme, and toss well. Serves 4-6.
Sunchoke & Cauliflower Soup
From Chef Jonathan Miller
1 baby fennel bulb or celery stalk, chopped finely
1/2 onion, chopped finely
2 c chicken stock
3/4 c milk
1 small head cauliflower (about a pound), cut into florets
1/2 lb sunchokes, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 sprig thyme
Melt a few tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and add the fennel and onion. Cook over low heat (no browning) until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the stock and milk and bring to a simmer. Add the cauliflower, sunchokes, and thyme and return to a simmer. Simmer slowly for about 30 minutes, or until the sunchokes are tender. Remove the thyme sprig. Cool slightly. Puree the soup and then season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Delicious with toasted bread.
adapated from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian
Some olive or vegetable oil for rubbing on the sunchokes
Butter, salt and black pepper (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Scrub the sunschokes well to remove all the dirt. Pat them dry, rub with oil and then put them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until just tender. Prick with the point of a knife to check. The whole sunchoke will just begin to give a little. Serve immediately. To eat, cut in half and dot with butter and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper if desired.
adapted from Marcela Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
1 pound sunchokes(Jerusalem artichokes)
An oven-to-table baking dish
Butter for smearing and dotting the baking dish
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Peel the sunchokes and drop them in salted, boiling water. Cook them until they feel tender, but not mushy when prodded with a fork. Ten minutes after the water returns to a boil, check them frequently because they tend to go from very firm to very soft in a brief span of time. Drain when done, and as soon as they are cool enough to handle, cut them into 1/2-inch slices.
Smear the bottom of a baking dish with butter, then place the sunchoke slices in it, arranging them so they overlap slightly, roof tile fashion. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and the grated Parmesan, dot with butter and place the dish on the uppermost rack of the preheated oven. Bake until a light golden crust begins to form on top. Allow to settle for a few minutes out of the oven before serving.
Yield: 4 servings
Sunchoke Salad Sandwich (makes 3)
adapted from Too Many Chefs blog
8-12 oz. cleaned scrubbed sunchokes
1 celery rib, diced fine
1/2 red bell pepper, diced fine
1/2 small red onion, diced fine
1 cup clean baby spinach leaves
1 red tomato, sliced into 6 slices, plus top and bottom trimming
"enough" mayonnaise or Vegan substitute - about 3 tablespoons or so.
salt and pepper to taste
6 slices hearty wheat bread
Scrub the sunchokes very well. You don't have to peel them if you are sure you've removed all the dirt. I used a plastic dobie pad I'd microwaved briefly. You may peel them if you wish, but you'll need more sunchokes to make up for the loss of the mass of the peel.
Grate the sunchokes into a medium bowl. Squeeze the water out of the sunchokes with your fists after they've been grated and drain. Ok, you could wrap them in a paper towel before squeezing, but it's not nearly as satisfying as going bareback.
Add the celery, bell pepper, and onion. Mix well. Add some of the the mayonnaise and mix until the whole is thoroughly moist, but not soupy. It should look like a slightly dry tuna salad. If still to dry, continue to add mayo until it reaches the consistency you desire.
Taste and adjust seasonings.
Lay down a few spinach leaves on a slice of toast, just enough to protect the bread from the mayo in the salad. Spread as much as you wish of the salad (up to a 1/3 of the total) on top of the layer of spinach. Top with two slices of tomato, and 1/3 cup of spinach.
Add the second slice of bread, cut diagonally and serve. Repeat with rest of ingredients to make three sandwiches
Sunchokes/Jerusalem Artichokes an article by Andy about Sunchokes
The Jerusalem artichokes in my fields aren’t artichokes, and they’re not from Jerusalem. So what are they?
Scientists call Jerusalem artichokes Helianthus tuberosa. Helios is Greek for sun, and anthus means flower, so the Jerusalem artichoke is a sunflower that makes a tuber. A tuber is an enlarged, subterranean stem, not a root, with buds that can send out roots, other stems, or leaves. Botanists will tell you that plants evolve a tuberous habit to survive harsh environmental conditions. A tuberous plant can survive freezing weather or blazing drought because its tubers are protected under an insulating blanket of soil. When rain finally does come and temperatures favor growth, the underground tubers are stimulated to sprout stems and greenery, and the plant grows again. If conditions get hot and dry again, or freezing cold, the life force of the plant retreats from the foliage back down the stems into the tubers that nest protected in the soil.
The sugars and proteins the tuberous plant stores in their tissues make many of them valuable crops for people. The potato, for example, is a tuberous member of the Solanaceae, from the Andes, where hot days and cold nights make survival a constant challenge. Potatoes are agriculture’s most commercial tuber, but many other plant families have contributed tuberous crops to agriculture. Anu, or Tropaeolum tuberosum, is an edible tuberous nasturtium, also from the Andes. The yam, Dioscorea alata, is a sweet tuber from Africa.
The French explorer Champlain encountered Indians encountered in North America cooking the tubers of a sprawling Helianthus with yellow flowers, and he took some samples back to Europe. The Italians dubbed the new plants “ girasole articocco.” The Italian verb girar means to turn, and sole means sun. Sunflowers turn on their stems during the day so that they’re always tracking the sun, facing east at dawn and facing west in the evening. The English, showing the sensitivity for nuance and the spiritual touch that’s made them such an influence in the Middle East, heard the Italian girasole as “Jerusalem,” and named the plants “Jerusalem artichokes.”
There is some sense to calling the Helianthus tuberosa an “artichoke,” since the flesh of the tuber tastes faintly of artichoke, and both sunflowers and artichoke are members of the Compositae. Plants in the Compositae are distinguished by their flower heads, which are composed of many independent florets fused into one apparent common flower head. The open face of a sunflower crawls with bees because it is really the face of a community, not an individual, and the bees visit every tiny flower as they go about harvesting nectar.
But where the common garden sunflower makes one huge head, the Jerusalem artichoke is multi-branched, and makes many small flowers. Helianthus tuberosa produce seeds, but many of the seeds are sterile. The Jerusalem artichoke propagates itself by spreading its tubers underground. In a garden setting, Jerusalem artichokes can quickly morph from a crop into a weed if the gardener doesn’t remove every last piece of tuber from the soil. I’m not worried about Jerusalem artichoke weeds infesting my field, because the tubers we don’t harvest the gophers will.
After they flower, Jerusalem artichoke plants die back. As the stalks wither they take on a hard, fibrous character. Some of the plants are fourteen feet high. It’s easy to cut the dry stalks down with machetes, but trying to incorporate the tough, woody stems back into the soil would be like trying to plough acres of hemp door mats under, so we pile the stalks into piles after harvest and burn them. We was the soil from the tubers and bag them for shipment or storage. Jerusalem artichokes are popular with restaurants in the winter because they make rich soups and gratins. Some people enjoy them sliced thin and served raw. The texture of raw Jerusalem artichoke is similar to the water chestnut.
There are tons of tubers to dig up and we don’t have enough space in our refrigerator to store them all, but storage won’t be a problem. By their very nature, tubers store well in the ground, so we will leave the Jerusalem artichokes in the soil and dig them up as needed. We’ll dig up the tubers we don’t sell right before they re-sprout in late February, and plant them out in a new patch of ground for our 2008 crop. What is a Jerusalem artichoke? It’s a starchy, flavorful and versatile Native American crop that’s easy to grow, pretty to look at, simple to store, and cheap to plant.
copyright 2007 Andy Griffin
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