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.
This is a modified version of a recipe in Easy Vegetarian, edited by Sharon Ashman, which Kª gave me for my birthday. It’s total comfort food. The original recipe calls for mixing spinach with the carrots, a surprising and tasty innovation, but as Kª was bringing a spinach salad on this occasion I replaced the spinach with parsnips.
Making this recipe is super easy but it goes against my principles of vegetable nutrition. I have always been taught that you gently steam vegetables and you leave their skins on if possible, and that way you get all the good stuff the veggies have to offer.
Boiling the crap out of your vegetables, especially once peeled, means all the goodness goes down the drain when you pour out the water.
In this particular case, however, we will forgo the goodness for the tasty buttery-ness.
Peel up some carrots and some parsnips, probably on a ratio of 3:1, as parsnips have a stronger flavour and you don’t need as many. Slice ’em up into little discs and put them in a pot with enough water to cover them. Boil the crap out of them FOR EVER, or at least until you can mash the carrots against the side of the pot with the back of a spoon (the parsnips will be super soggy by this point already).
Drain all the water out and, with a potato masher, mash up what you’ve got. Add generous amounts of butter and some salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, obviously. I used 7 carrots and 3 parsnips and it served about 8 or 9 people.