The sunchoke is actually another name for the Jerusalem Artichoke...which is a type of sunflower. The really neat thing about this plant is that the roots, or tubers, (see left) are edible. So it's a win/win because it looks pretty in the garden and is great in the kitchen as well! We have ordered some of these plants and they are on their way!! We will have sunchokes available starting in late spring/early summer.
The taste is somewhat similar to a potato, but different. Wisegeek.com described it almost perfectly, saying, "A sunchoke is an underground vegetable like a cross between a rutabaga, potato, sunflower seed, and water chestnut." These tubers are very unique in taste and make great additions to salads, just sliced. No other preparation is needed. When cooking, they are best if steamed. If you over cook them, they tend to become mushy and lose most of their great flavor.
Sunchokes are good for you! They are rich in inulin, which creates good intestinal health due to its prebiotic properties. Although the inulin is great for digestive health, it also causes gas....which could also be a good thing, I guess..depending on how you look at it. :) They are also packed with Vitamin C, phosphorus, potassium, and iron.
Here are a couple recipes I found from a farm that specializes in growing this specialty crop (www.mariquita.com). I think the recipes sound great and can't wait to try them!!
1 pound sunchokes
An oven-to-table baking dish
Butter for smearing and dotting the baking dish
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
-Peel the sunchokes and drop them in salted, boiling water.
-Cook them until they feel tender, but not mushy when prodded with a fork. Ten minutes after the water returns to a boil, check them frequently because they tend to go from very firm to very soft in a brief span of time.
-Drain when done, and as soon as they are cool enough to handle, cut them into 1/2-inch slices.
-Smear the bottom of a baking dish with butter, then place the sunchoke slices in it, arranging them so they overlap slightly, roof tile fashion. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and the grated Parmesan, dot with butter and place the dish on the uppermost rack of the preheated oven. Bake until a light golden crust begins to form on top. Allow to settle for a few minutes out of the oven before serving.
Yield: 4 servings
Sunchoke Salad Sandwich (makes 3)
8-12 oz. cleaned scrubbed sunchokes
1 celery rib, diced fine
1/2 red bell pepper, diced fine
1/2 small red onion, diced fine
1 cup clean baby spinach leaves
1 red tomato, sliced into 6 slices, plus top and bottom trimming
"enough" mayonnaise or Vegan substitute - about 3 tablespoons or so.
salt and pepper to taste
6 slices hearty wheat bread
-Scrub the sunchokes very well. You don't have to peel them if you are sure you've removed all the dirt. You may peel them if you wish, but you'll need more sunchokes to make up for the loss of the mass of the peel.
-Grate the sunchokes into a medium bowl. Squeeze the water out of the sunchokes with your fists after they've been grated and drain.
-Add the celery, bell pepper, and onion. Mix well.
-Add some of the the mayonnaise and mix until the whole is thoroughly moist, but not soupy. It should look like a slightly dry tuna salad. If still too dry, continue to add mayo until it reaches the consistency you desire.
-Taste and adjust seasonings.
-Lay down a few spinach leaves on a slice of toast, just enough to protect the bread from the mayo in the salad.
-Spread as much as you wish of the salad (up to a 1/3 of the total) on top of the layer of spinach. Top with two slices of tomato, and 1/3 cup of spinach.
- Add the second slice of bread, cut diagonally and serve. Repeat with rest of ingredients to make three sandwiches.
(Photo courtesy of foodlorists.blogspot.com)
Dylan and Harmony, whichever of us have the time to sit down and write for a few minutes. : )