Spotted this week at the Greene Hill Food Co-op: gorgeous Jerusalem Artichokes! Despite their name, these nubby root vegetables aren’t related to the artichoke family, nor do they hail from Jerusalem. Also called sunchokes or sunroot, they’re actually part of the sunflower family. Many vegetable scholars (don’t you wish that was your job description?) suggest that the “Jerusalem” part comes from a corruption of the Italian name for sunflower- girasole. Whatever you call them, these delightful veggies can be eaten either raw or cooked. When shaved or julienned, they have a crisp texture similar to a water chestnut or jicama. When cooked, they have a rich earthy taste, and can be substituted for potatoes in many dishes- an exotic twist on a simple gratin, perhaps, or maybe mashed, creamed, and served with bitter greens? Yum. Like most good roots, these are pretty stellar just roasted with olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper, but if you’d like to get a little fancy, here’s a recipe we love:
Mario Batali’s Sunchokes/Jerusalem Artichokes With Walnut Gremolata
- 1/3 cup fresh Italian parsley
- 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
- 2 tbs. slivered orange zest
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 pound firm sunchokes, scrubbed
- 2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- Maldon or other flaky sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
Coarsely chop the parsley, and combine with walnuts, orange zest, and garlic in a small bowl, mixing well.
Using a Benriner (Japanese mandoline) or other vegetable slicer, thinly shave the sunchokes. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with the olive oil.
Toss well to thoroughly coat the sunchokes. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the gremolata, and serve. Serves 6.