Sunchokes were a great addition to the CSA shares today and the first of 2012 fall. Here is a little re-print of the background and links to a great recipe. More recipes will be posted tomorrow so send in your favorite.
Native Americans called these “sun roots” which makes sense as they are the root of a sunflower plant. These little root vegetables have a bumpy brown skin and the best description that I have found is “nubbly tubers” which Deborah Madison wrote in her Local Flavors Cookbook. Her recipe for Sunchoke Bisque with Hazlenut Oil is below. Nubbly makes me think of a beautiful raw silk texture that is uneven and molded. Another name for this vegetable is Jerusalem Artichokes, though they are not related to the artichoke. The story goes that a French explorer sent some roots back to a friend in Italy who thought they tasted like artichokes. In Italian, the word “sunflower” sounds like “Jerusalem” to Americans and that stuck as the name.
The taste is like a sharp potato, water chestnut, artichoke or a more intense jicama. This means flavor. Most recipes that I have reviewed are for soups, purees and warm winter dishes. The skin is edible and the nutrients are close to the skin…so you do not have to peel them. Very easy dinner preparation. These are high in fiber, vitamin C and thiamine and they help the healthy bacteria in the intestinal tract to grow. Don’t eat too many at a time or it could cause stomach upset due to the high fiber and healthy bacteria. I eat small amounts of soup or a few of the pickles.
Here is a recipe from Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors Cookbook. It is a great book to have with your CSA share as it follows the seasons and local food. I have also included more links below with sunchoke information and background. Enjoy.
Amy Hetager, CSA Blogger
Sunchoke Bisque with Hazlenut Oil
BY DEBORAH MADISON FROM LOCAL FLAVORS
1 small onion
3 small red potatoes
1 lb Jerusalem artichokes
1 celery rib
2 tablespoons sunflower seed oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups vegetable stock
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 bay leaves
milk or cream for thinning
1/2 cup croutons, crisped in the oven
roasted hazlenut or pumpkin seed oil
1. Wash all the vegetables, then chop them into 1/2 inch chunks. Don’t bother to peel the sunchokes.
2. Heat the oil in a soup pot, add the vegetables, and saute over high heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic during the last few minutes. Pour in the stock. Add 1-1/2 teaspoons salt and the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.
3. Cool briefly, then puree until perfectly smooth. Return the soup to the stove and add enough milk or cream to thin it to the desired consistency. Taste for salt and season with pepper. Serve with a few croutons in each bowl and the oil drizzled in a thin stream over the top.
CLICK HERE FOR THE WEBSITE WITH MORE BACKGROUND
Slice sunchokes and enjoy the crunch they add to your salad.
Slice and serve them along with crudites and dips.
Shred them into a slaw. Dice them into a chopped salad.
Slice, dice, or shred and marinate in a little extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice or rice vinegar
Coarsely chop sunchokes and add to the blender when preparing raw soups.
STIR FRY: Slice, dice, or shred and stir fry along with other fresh vegetables in a little extra virgin olive oil. They will become softened in about 4 to 6 minutes. For a tender crisp texture, stir fry about 2 to 4 minutes.
BAKED: Sunchokes can be baked whole or sliced. Toss them in a bowl with a little extra virgin olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Set the oven temperature at 375 and bake 30 to 45 minutes for whole, and 20 to 25 minutes for sliced, turning them half way through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
STEAMED: Coarsely chop the Jerusalem artichokes and put them into a steamer basket. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Continue at high heat and steam for 5 to 8 minutes. Test for softness. Remove and season to taste or mash like potatoes.
BOILED: Sunchokes can be boiled whole or cut as desired. Bring a covered saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add sunchokes and boil for 10 to 15 minutes for whole, and 5 to 8 minutes for cut up. Season as desired or mash like potatoes.
One very interesting fact is that sunchokes are high in fructose and the levels will increase as they are stored. They can remain in a closed container in the fridge for about 2 weeks. Remember not to peel them because the nutrients are close to the skin and it saves you a step. Sliced sunchokes can discolor, like and apple, so immerse them in water with salt, lemon or vinegar. The skin is higher in iron so it may darken when cooking.