When I was growing up on the farm, we only ate vegetables we grew ourselves: neeps, carrots, kale, cabbage and, of course, tatties. Onions were bought and there was the occasional cauliflower but that was our lot back in the 1960s. Over the decades the range of vegetables I’ve come across has increased but I must confess, I still struggle to know what to do with a Jerusalem artichoke. So, if like me, you’re a bit confused about this vegetable, here are a few interesting facts about it – I had to google them!
1) The Jerusalem artichoke is not an artichoke but a member of the sunflower family (Helianthus tuberosus).
2) The name has nothing to do with the city of Jerusalem. It is derived from the Italian word for sunflower – girasole.
3) It is native to North America and is sometimes known as sunroot or earth apple.
4) It is a great source of fibre, potassium and iron.
5) The tuber is the part of the plant that is edible.
All good stuff but…that still leaves the problem of how to cook them, so, here’s a straightforward recipe I tried and it worked really well. (Confession – thanks again to my ‘foodie’ step-daughter, Sofya). Oh, and there are plenty of Jerusalem artichoke and herbs available in the community garden.
Crispy Jerusalem artichokes with feta and roasted garlic – a warm, winter salad
800g Jerusalem artichoke tubers
1 whole garlic bulb
3 tbsp olive (or rapeseed) oil
pinch of ground nutmeg
200g feta (cut into small pieces)
2tsp lemon juice
1. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Soak the artichokes in cold water for 20 mins or so to loosen any dirt, then scrub them clean. Halve the small ones and quarter the bigger ones and put them in a roasting tin with a whole garlic bulb. Coat everything with oil and season. Roast for 45-50 mins until tender inside and crispy outside.
2. To finish, squeeze the softened garlic cloves from their skins and toss with the roasted artichokes, along with the nutmeg, butter and lemon juice.
3. Sprinkle on top the feta and any fresh herbs (e.g. parsley, mint, rosemary) that are available.