Jerusalem Artichokes

The Jerusalem Artichoke is in my top 5 of vegetables…which is a pretty hard list for me to pick as I can’t think of a vegetable that I dislike (maybe okra….)  At the mention of artichoke, you maybe thinking of a globe artichoke – the large green orb of firm petals that looks mysterious to cook with. The Jerusalem Artichoke also looks like rather an odd thing to eat but that is where the similarities between the two veggies ends – they are not related to each other at all.

The Jerusalem Artichoke is a tuber, like a potato or yam, growing underground to a perennial plant (meaning the plant comes back year after year) growing about 2 metres tall in the summer. They are part of the sunflower family and develop small sunflower like flowers once at full height.

They are ridiculous easy to grow which we learnt by accident. Having only seen the purple skinned variety here in France, I spotted the browner skinned version whilst in Italy and bought a bag for eating, then threw one in the garden. 3 years later we had about 50 plants and our winter supply of Jerusalem Artichokes. Needless to say, they might need some control in a small garden or patch but this is also pretty easy to do. Alternatively, grow them in a big half barrel or similar in a part of the garden that needs shade and always plant the tubers with the fewest bumps and lumps to make peeling easier.

So what to do with them? They are delicious simply roasted as an alternative to potatoes and they also make an excellent purée. I like them with white fish, such as sea bass and also with game birds like quail or pigeon.

I know that many people consider them to be a white food and therefore not nutritious but they are actually a hidden gem. High in inulin (not insulin), a type of fibre, they help to balance blood sugar and also work as a Prebiotic, helping our digestive health. It is this that gives the jerusalem artichoke that slightly sweet taste. Plus they contain potassium and iron too, happy days.

Preparing Jerusalem Artichokes

  • Dig them up between November and April, or buy them!
  • Give them a good wash and then peel them, which is a bit fiddly so try and get ones with the least about of bumps. You can eat the skin if roasting just make sure you have washed all the dirt out.
  • When peeled, place immediately in water as they oxidise super quick and go brown.

Roasting Jerusalem Artichokes

  • Cut into cubes, about 2cm big
  • Toss in a bowl of grapeseed oil or similar, with salt and pepper
  • Roast at 185°C for about 25 minutes until brown and slightly crispy on the edges

Jerusalem Artichoke Purée

500g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled
280ml single cream
250ml full cream milk
40g butter

  • Using a sharp knife, very thinly slice the artichokes.
  • Tightly pack the slices in a non-stick saucepan and cover with the cream and milk.
  • Add the butter to the pan and gently simmer without a lid for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally whilst taking care that it doesn’t boil over.
  • Once the artichokes are very soft, transfer the contents of the saucepan into a beaker.
  • Add several pinches of salt and blend with a stick blender for several minutes until you have a very smooth puree.
  • Keep in the fridge until required and then re-heat in the microwave or in a saucepan
Pan fried sea bass with jerusalem artichoke, saffron roasted tomatoes, fennel, and orange salad

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