Have you been introduced to the Jerusalem artichoke? No?
How do you do?
I know it doesn’t look like much. In fact, it’s neither an artichoke nor is it from Jerusalem. They’re a tuber at the base of a variety of sunflower, but don’t let their knobby texture fool you into thinking they’re tough and tasteless: the Jerusalem artichoke (or “sunchoke”) is a tender tuber that (I think) tastes like nuts would, if nuts were vegetables.
My parents plant Jerusalem artichokes in their driveway, because the tall leafy greens provide a nice screen between their house and the garbage-strewn front lawn of our hoarding neighbour. Plus you don’t have to harvest them until mid-fall, so the screen stays up extra long.
This is what they look like after they’ve been pulled from the ground and separated from their stems.
First you separate all the little tiny ones and store them in your garage to replant in the spring.
Then you take the ones you want to eat and scrub them silly. We’re going to do a little feature on Jerusalem artichokes this week, so we have plenty to go through. Many recipes call for peeling these things, but I never bother. The skin is where all the vitamins are, after all, and I can only imagine that peeling them is an exercise in insanity.
For today’s recipe, take a pound of the ‘chokes, and a pound of your potato of choice.
Remove all the roots and knobby bits from the artichokes. Chop them and the potatoes up into 1″ pieces and chuck them in a pot.
Boil them until very tender. Drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid.
Mash them up with a little butter and some of the reserved cooking liquid until they are thick and moist.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. TADA.
Behold the lowly, plebeian turnip. If you were my Scottish great-grandfather you’d call them neeps. The vegetable of the working class. Nubbly root vegetables that overwinter remarkably well. Tasty tubers.
You get the idea.
I’m fond of turnips. Rutabaga as well. They’re a little yellower, bigger, and stronger tasting than a turnip.
Thanksgiving is all about the harvest vegetables, and the turnip is a traditional addition.
I used 4 medium-sized turnips. (And 2 large apples. No picture of those sadly.)
Peel them with a sharp knife and cut them into cubes.
Chuck them in a pot with a pinch or two (or five) of cinnamon and enough water to cover.
Cover and simmer them until very tender, about an hour, maybe more.
Drain and mash with butter and a dash of maple syrup.
You can serve it as is, but this time we felt that the turnips were a little bland.
We peeled and cubed a single large sweet potato and boiled that up as well until it was tender.
Mash that sucker in with the turnip after you’re done your boiling.
Add a spoonful of ginger, as well as some nutmeg and a bit of brown sugar. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve hot.
You can also freeze this stuff for thawing and reheating later. It saves time on the big day.