March 17, 2021
Sunchoke — also known as Jerusalem artichoke, sun root or earth apple — is an interesting tuber. It looks like ginger but tastes nothing like it; it is not from the city of Jerusalem; nor is it in the artichoke family. It’s actually native to North America and part of the sunflower family of plants. It can withstand icy temperatures and is originally cultivated by indigenous tribes. In the 16th century, French explorers who thought the flavor of the tuber bore some resemblance to artichokes took them back to Europe and cultivated them, where they are still very popular and used for soups or salads.
In full season now in Texas, sunchokes are rich in vitamin C, potassium and a complex carbohydrate called inulin, considered good for gut health. Since they can be eaten raw, I found one of the best ways to retain their delicious crunch is to stir-fry them paired with earthy shiitake mushrooms and leeks.
1/4 cup olive oil
8 to 10 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 cups of shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 pound sunchokes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 cup sliced leeks, green or white parts
1 serrano pepper, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup raisins or currants
Juice of one lemon
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
Pinch of red chili powder
In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil and when it is just shy of smoking, add the sliced garlic and cumin seeds. They will pop and sizzle and within a few seconds, add the shiitake mushrooms and cook them on medium heat, covered for 3 to 4 minutes or until they soften.
Next add the sunchokes, leeks, and serrano pepper and continue cooking on medium to high heat, uncovered. The sunchokes just need to cook for 2 to 3 minutes to get a slight sear yet retain their crunch. Add the salt, pepper, and raisins and turn the heat off. Squeeze lemon juice over the mixture and let it rest for a few minutes.
When ready to serve, toss the sunchoke shiitake mix with flat-leaf parsley and top with pecorino and a pinch of red chili powder.
Sunchokes do not need to be peeled and given an awkward shape, can be sliced in half or 4 quadrants if they are larger. It is best to wash them after they have been sliced as the dirt gets caught in the crevices.
The stir fry can be served at room temperature or warm.
Toss this whole mixture with 3 to 4 cups of cooked pasta for a more filling meal.
December 02, 2022