There are no two ways around it– Jerusalem artichokes look like the ugly love child of Miss Ginger Root and Mr. Potato Head. Fortunately beneath that gnarled exterior hides a uniquely nutty, mildly sweet vegetable that’s becoming a winter staple at my house. Jerusalem artichokes are very versatile too. They can be shaved thin and eaten raw. I’ve fried them and mashed them (be generous with the butter) and layered them into a gratin. Roasted Jerusalem artichokes require no peeling and are as simple to bake as potatoes. However they have another ugly aspect that may be a little indelicate for a food blog.
Jerusalem artichokes, like beans, are said to be the cause of gas in some people. When I was writing this Gjelina-inspired recipe for Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes with Salsa Verde I considered calling them Roasted Jerusalem Fartichokes (just for fun). You have to admit it’s a hilarious name. However, this is a food blog. It’s my job to make these Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes sound appetizing. Besides, I’m no longer an 11-year-old boy and fart chokes – I mean jokes – aren’t nearly as much fun as they used to be.
But what if I could convince you that farty foods were a good thing? I’d be doing my job as a food blogger AND getting to use the word fart! Win-win, right?
Let me explain. Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes (and un-roasted Jerusalem artichokes) have a nutty, slightly sweet flavor similar to jicama. Like Jicama, Jerusalem artichokes (also known as Sunchokes), get that sweet flavor from a prebiotic carbohydrate known as inulin. Unfortunately humans don’t naturally digest inulin, so (some studies suggest) we need to encourage the growth of the beneficial bacteria known as probiotics to do that job. Prebiotics like inulin are the “fertilizer” that leads to the procreation of probiotics in our guts. These “biotics” and their complicated relationship are getting a lot of attention these days as probiotics (some studies suggest) may lead to healthier digestion.
The flip side of all this quasi-science is the honest truth that as the probiotics eat the prebiotics they produce waste in the form of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide in your gut is the gas that leads to farting. Which, believe it or not, could (some studies suggest) be a good thing because it means the probiotics are dining on the prebiotics. All you have to do is dine on Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes with Salsa Verde. GREG