I am inundated with artichokes. OK, maybe not real artichokes, but jerusalem artichokes, which aren’t really artichokes at all. They are North America’s answer to South America’s potato, a yummy tuber that grows beneath a weedy, eight-foot tall sunflower-like plant. I first grew them in Virginia, after reading that the local Indians had once eaten them with gusto, and then farted happily for hours afterward. (Yes, the inulin in the sunchoke is pretty tough to digest.)
Turns out they’ve been incorporated into European cuisine since the 1600s, and are traditionally eaten in the Piedmont of Italy raw with bagna cauda, a garlicky anchovy spread. This is a good thing, because I make a pretty decent version of this spread, and because I am now the proud owner of two five-gallon buckets full of these damn things!
I’ve eaten a few already, and I like them raw: They taste like jicama or water chestnuts, crunchy, juicy and slightly nutty. I also like them chunked and sauteed with shallots, garlic and either pancetta or guanciale. Pork goes well with everything, but it marries especially well with sunchokes. Any of you out there have any other suggestions? Meanwhile, I am working on several uses for these knobby lumps of love, starting with a salad dish.
JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE SALAD with PERSIMMONS
This crunchy salad says “autumn” to me, much a like a beet salad says “winter.” Use fuyu persimmons as they remain firm. This salad really cannot be made ahead because the jerusalem artichokes will discolor.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
- 6 large jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed
- 2 fuyu persimmons
- 1 Meyer lemon
- 1 tablespoon shallot, minced
- 2 tablespoons mint, minced
- 2 tablespoons walnut oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- With a sharp knife or zester, zest the lemon and set the slivered zest aside.
- Peel and slice the persimmons thinly, then cut into quarters. Slice the sunchokes as thin as the persimmons.
- Mix the mint with the shallot and lemon zest and toss with some lemon juice and walnut oil. Toss the persimmons and sunchoke slices with the rest of the lemon juice and a little salt.
- Arrange on a plate alternating, overlapping slivers of persimmon and sunchoke. Drizzle oil over them. In the center, place a small mound of the shallot and mint mixture on top.