Jersualem artichoke / Sunchoke

21/07/2012 15:35

Are a odd-shaped root similar to a ginger root, they have a  kind of sweet, nutty flavour. It seems these are another one of those veggies that is not widely used. Perhaps because of its awkward appearance, so it gets ignored and left sitting on the shelve. They are an inexpensive and versatile food that can be used both raw and cooked. Also Jersualem artichoke contain vitamin C, phosphorus and potassium and are a very good source of iron. The artichoke plant is related to the sunflower and produces edible tubers. It is hardy and grows readily in cold climates.

A little history ~The misnamed Jerusalem artichoke has no real link with Jerusalem, and isn't related to other artichokes either. Jerusalem artichokes are native to North America. The French explorer Samuel de Champlain brought them to Europe after coming across  them at Cape Cod in 1605. He described them as tasting like artichokes, and is likely to be responsible for this part of their name. The Jerusalem part is thought to be derived from girasole, the Italian for sunflower to which they are related. Another theory suggests the name is a corruption of Terneuzen, the Dutch city from where the root was introduced to England in 1616.

Jerusalem artichokes can be cooked in much the same way as potatoes or parsnips and are excellent roasted, sautéed or dipped in batter and fried, or puréed to make a delicious soup.

BUYING ~ Roots should be free from soft spots, wrinkles or sprouting. Knobbles and uneveness are unavoidable, although the smoother, rounder artichokes are much easier to prepare.

STORING ~ If they are stored in a cool and dark place they will keep well for up to 10 days.

PREPARING ~ Like potatoes, artichokes can be served with or without the skin, just scrub clean and leave it on for maximum nutritional benefit. If peeling or cutting, drop pieces into water with a squeeze of lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Unlike potatoes, artichokes can also be used raw in salads or stir-fried.

Try this quick and easy soup....

Jerusalem artichoke soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
500g Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
800ml chicken or vegetable stock
100ml single cream
fresh chopped parsley

Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and fry gently for 5 minutes. Add the artichokes and stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes, until the artichokes are tender. Blend the mixture until smooth, and season to taste. Reheat gently. Stir in the parsley and cream and serve.