Sunchokes, also called Jerusalem artichokes, are an edible tuber that grows underground, much like a potato. They look a bit like a knobbly pink-skinned ginger root and have a sweet, nutty flavor, reminiscent of water chestnuts.
The sunchoke is native to North America. The French explorer Samuel de Champlain introduced them to Europe after coming across them at Cape Cod in 1605.
The sunchoke plant (Helianthus tuberosus) is related to the sunflower and produces edible tubers. Sunchokes are very rich in inulin, a carbohydrate linked with good intestinal health due to its prebiotic (bacteria promoting) properties. These health benefits come at a price; the food can have a potent wind-producing effect. Sunchokes also contain vitamin C, phosphorus and potassium and are a very good source of iron.
- Slice sunchokes and enjoy the crunch they add to your salad.
- Slice and serve them along with crudites and dips.
- Shred them into a slaw. Dice them into a chopped salad.
- Slice, dice, or shred and marinate in a little extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice or rice vinegar
- Coarsely chop sunchokes and add to the blender when preparing raw soups.
- 2 to 3 large sunchokes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves removed
- 3 to 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Scrub the sunchokes under cold running water and slice 1/4-inch thick. Add the sunchokes and garlic to a roasting pan or baking sheet and toss with the olive oil so the bottom of the pan and the sunchokes are lightly coated. Add more olive oil a tablespoon at a time if you don’t feel like the vegetables are coated enough, but not too much; you don’t want them swimming in olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and rosemary. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the sunchokes are tender inside, like a potato.
Scalloped Ginger Sunchokes
- 2 cups sliced peeled sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem artichokes; 7 to 10 sunchokes)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 Tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 cup dried bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Generously butter a 1-quart casserole or small gratin dish. In a large saucepan, combine the sliced sunchokes, all but 2 tablespoons of the cream, the ginger, garlic, salt, pepper, and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Mix the cornstarch with the remaining 2 tablespoons of cream to make a paste; stir into the sunchokes and simmer for another 5 minutes. Spoon the sunchokes and cream into the prepared casserole dish and top evenly with the bread crumbs. Place the casserole in a larger baking pan and add enough water to come about halfway up the sides of the casserole. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Note: If you like you can substitute 1/4 cup of chopped hazelnuts, pecans, or walnuts for part of the bread crumbs.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings Recipe Source: An American Place by Larry Forgione (William Morrow)
Sauteed Sunchokes with Sunflower Seeds
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
I found that peeling the ‘chokes was easiest with a sharp paring knife. Scrubbing them was also easy, you can decide which you prefer. It might depend on what you want your final dish to look like. A rustic saute that will be sprinkled with seeds and parsley doesn’t really need the pure white of peeled sunchokes; a creamy white soup might want the roots to be peeled. -Jonathan M
- 1 1/2 pounds sunchokes (also called Jerusalem artichokes), sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
- 2 tablespoons sunflower seed oil, or other high heat oil such as peanut or grapeseed
- S & P to taste
- 3 Tablespoons sunflower seeds, toasted
- 2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
Saute the sunchokes in the oil in a large skillet over high heat until lightly browned and tender but still a bit crisp. Taste them as they cook; they can be done in 5 minutes or as many as 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt & pepper, add the sunflower seeds, parsley, and thyme, and toss well. Serves 4-6.
SUNCHOKE PECAN SANDWICH
Sunchoke Pecan Sandwich is one of the delicious recipes in Zel Allen’s cookbook The Nut Gourmet: Nourishing Nuts for Every Occasion published by Book Publishing Company in 2006.
Yield: 3 to 4 sandwiches
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Dash cayenne
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup (60 to 120 ml) organic canola oil
- 2 cups (480 ml) coarsely shredded sunchokes
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) raw or toasted pecans, coarsely chopped or coarsely ground
- 1/4 red bell pepper, finely diced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 6 to 8 slices whole grain bread
- 12 to 16 large basil leaves
- 3 ripe tomatoes, sliced
- 3 to 4 butter lettuce leaves
To make the avocado sauce, wash the avocado, cut it in half, scoop out the flesh, and place it in the blender. Add the lemon juice, salt, and cayenne and blend briefly. With the machine running, slowly add the canola oil, using just enough to create a thick, creamy sauce. Stop the machine occasionally to scrape down the sides of the blender jar and stir the mixture.
To make the sunchoke filling, combine the sunchokes, pecans, and red bell pepper in a medium bowl. Add enough of the avocado sauce to moisten and hold the mixture together. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Spread a thin coating of the avocado sauce over one side of each of the bread slices. Spread the sunchoke mixture over half the bread slices and top with the basil leaves, tomato slices, and lettuce. Place the remaining bread slices over the filling and cut the sandwiches in half.
Parmesan Sunchoke Fries
- about 1 lb sunchokes (finger-like in shape and roughly the same size)
- 1 quart salted water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt & pepper
- finely shredded parmesan cheese
Bring the salted water to a boil over high in a medium-sized pot. Wash the sunchokes well, but i don’t bother scrubbing or peeling them. Slice all the pieces lengthwise into quarters, roughly the same sizes but they won’t be perfectly uniform. When the water is boiling carefully drop the sunchoke pieces in and once it comes back to a full boil let it simmer on high for 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375F. When time is up strain the sunchokes. Toss them in a medium bowl with the olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and fresh cracked pepper. They will be too hot to toss with your hands and too fragile for using a mixing spoon so spin them around in the bowl just to coat. turn out onto a baking sheet and spread out evenly. Bake for 30 minutes, gently stirring every 10 minutes or so. Then turn the oven up to 400F, take the fries out and sprinkle with a thin coat of shredded parmesan cheese. Bake at 400F for 3-4 minutes or until some of the cheese is turning brown.
Recipe by Jacqueline Gabardy, L.Ac. of Pivot Acupuncture & Herbs