I made a terrific Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Garlic and Bacon today. Typically this tuber is at the peek of season between October and March. But this is California and we are blessed with seasonal vegetables that often stretch their season out an obscenely long time. I was pleased to see large piles of them still hanging out at the Hollywood Farmers Market today. I thought I better bring some to this blog while they’re still available.
Jerusalem artichokes are nothing like the big green globes that are just starting their season in California right now. They also have nothing to do with Jerusalem. Marketing geniuses have tried to make them more enticing by labeling them Sunchokes. But that’s an equally misguided moniker because Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes) grow underground, never seeing the light of day until they land on the sunny sidewalks of Los Angeles.
One look at them gives away their underworld origins. With their funny shape, nubbly skin, and buff brown color they look nothing like the green globed thistles they seem to have been named after. Well no bother, because they’re very versatile and completely delicious. You’ll love them roasted (try walnut oil) because they cook up meaty– a bit like potatoes nutty cousins. They fry beautifully and you can even eat them raw– they have a sweet crunchiness a lot like jicama. Try them in a slaw and see them swoon.
Jerusalem artichokes are native to North America and are known to botanists as Helianthus tuberosus. They are the tubers of a type of perennial aster that looks like a small sunflower.
Not only are Jerusalem artichokes a versatile ingredient, but they are easy to work with too. They need no peeling, just a good scrub with a stiff vegetable brush. Unlike potatoes, they don’t depend on butter and sour cream to impart them with deep flavor or richness. If you don’t believe me taste this Jerusalem Artichoke Soup. Just one taste though – the rest is for me. GREG