Monday, December 20, 2010

Produce of the Week: Jerusalem Artichoke

Ah, to be in Washington State again! While Washington, DC can be an exciting place for a young, starry-eyed, non-profit worker to live, it is lacking the distinctly Pacific Northwest flavor I crave. One of those flavors I have been craving is the Jerusalem artichoke - AKA sunchoke. This latter name is actually more appropriate, as the root is related to a sunflower and not an artichoke.

Neither an artichoke nor from the Holy Land, the sunchoke is native to the North American Eastern seaboard, where Europeans first encountered them at Cape Cod, MA in 1605. Why these tasty tubers haven't succeeded in becoming a Thanksgiving staple, I just couldn't say. The French seemed particularly taken with the sunchoke, or rather tompinambour. Despite some periods of disfavor (and suspected connection to leprosy), sunchokes served as a source of nourishment and sustenance during war, famine, and exploration (if Lewis and Clark ate it...). Learn more random sunchoke trivia here.

We may not have the colorful bounty of spring and summer right now, but I love the abundance of root veggies. It may not be the most creative of uses, but roasting these beauties in the oven is by far my favorite preparation method.

Agave-Roasted Root Veggies
4 baby beets
4 baby carrots
1/2 large rutabaga
1 small sweet potato
4-6 sunchokes
1/2 onion
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
sprinkle of thyme
a good drizzle of agave

1. Chop vegetables, toss in oil, thyme, and salt.
2. Spread out on a pan and drizzle with agave. Roast at 400F for 20 minutes. Flip and roast for another 20-25 minutes until soft.
3. Enjoy!

If you want to try something new, try out one of these fun recipes:
Jamie Oliver makes a lovely sauteed j-choke and garlic dish.
Sunchoke chips on Bon Appetit!
Serious Eats posted a recipe for turnip, apple, and Jerusalem artichoke soup.
A nice light salad with hazelnuts!
Another soup recipe with carrots and squash ... sub veggie stock.
Veganize this potato and sunchoke puree with olive oil and almond milk.

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