|These tubers, known as Jerusalem artichokes, are from a type of sunflower, .|
Ben dug up the garden bed next to the house, uprooting the invasive “sunflowers” that grow around the clementine tree and crowd out the strawberry plants. He dumped a heap of the roots on the kitchen cabinet. “Are these good for anything?”
|Edible tubers can be cooked like potatoes.|
Yes. The sunflower (Helianthus tuberosus) grows from an edible tuber known culinarily as Jerusalem artichoke, sunchoke or topinambour. My specimens were pretty small, but worth experimenting with.
The tuber does indeed taste a little like artichoke, but it has nothing to do with Jerusalem (in fact, it is native to North America).
The name may be a phonetic scrambling of the word “girasol,” meaning “sunflower.” “Sunchoke” is the market name where the tuber is grown as a food crop. Topinambour is the French name (don’t ask) and the name that Spanish chefs use for the vegetable.
Jerusalem artichokes actually taste like a cross between globe artichokes and potatoes. They can be cooked in any way suitable for potatoes, but are also good raw (which potatoes are not). I tried them raw, roasted, mashed and stir-fried.
|Peeled, the tubers are white.|
To prepare the Jerusalem artichokes, soak them in water for 15 minutes, then scrub them well to remove all the earth that clings to them.
Peeling small tubers is tedious. The skin is edible, but it gets leathery with roasting. Steaming is the best way to cook the tubers if they are to be turned into puree.
|Slice to use raw or stir-fried.|
|Crisp and crunchy, good raw in salad. |
|With stir-fried vegetables and rice.|
|Root vegetable extravaganza!|
|Roasted root vegetables, including Jerusalem artichokes, served alongside salmon cake and cole slaw. The roasted veggies are also good with roasted salmon, turkey, chicken, pork.|
By the way, the flower is a bright spot in the September-October garden. The tubers will continue to spread, however. So even though we dug these up, a few missed ones will begin to sprout next year.
More recipes for root vegetables: