25 Feb 2013
When I took over my allotment just before Christmas the only thing growing on it was a tall, spindly pretty dead looking plant which looked like a bunch of dried up bamboo canes. I was later informed by my neighbour it was in fact a Jerusalem Artichoke plant, and I've been digging up and eating the little things ever since! They are apparently pretty easy to grow, like potatoes you plant the tubers in early spring so about now and they grow into great big tall plants similar to sunflowers which they are related too. I'll be replanting some of mine in they hope they spring up into new plants for next years crop!
I hadn't really cooked with them before so as usual did a bit of digging around for inspiration on the internet, as always the BBC food website has lots of recipes and I found this round-up on The Telegraph website a nice introduction too. Mainly I've roasted them, sometimes along with potatoes and parsnips to accompany a roast dinner and other times for warm salads like below. I love the way roasting brings out their nutty caramelised flavour, perfect with a sharp salad dressing and salty Parmesan.
Roast jerusalem artichoke & red onion salad
8-10 medium sized jerusalem artichokes
2 tbsp olive oil
Herbs for roasting such as bay, thyme and rosemary
1 large red onion
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 large handfuls of mixed salad leaves and young herbs
Small chunk of Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
Sherry vinegar dressing:
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp honey
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
8 tbsp light olive oil or vegetable oil
To prepare the jerusalem artichokes firstly either scrub as you would a new potato or peel as you would a large potato, depending how course the skin is and how much patience you have! If you're preparing them in advance keep in a bowl of cold water with a little lemon juice or they will quickly discolour.
Cut them in half lengthways leaving any small ones whole and either steam or boil for 7-10 minutes until they just begin to soften. Drain and let them steam dry for a few minutes before placing in a roasting tin with the oil, seasoning and some roasting herbs. Roast in a hot oven for 25-30 minutes until caramelised around the edges and soft on the inside.
To prepare the red onion peel away the outer later removing as little of the root end as possible, you can trim back the top. Cut lengthways from top to root in half then half again, and cut each quarter into long thin slices lengthways, leaving the root on will mean the thin slices with hold together (see photo below!). Place the slices on a baking tray lined with baking paper, drizzle with the two tablespoons of sherry vinegar and season. Cook in the same oven as the jerusalem artichoke for 10-15 minutes until softened, keep an eye on them as the edges can burn quickly.
To make the dressing whisk the honey and mustard together in a small bowl, then add the vinegar followed by the oil little at a time as the dressing emulsifies. I also add a tablespoon of water or two as the dressing thickens which stabilizes it and reduces the risk of it splitting. Or put it all in a jam jar and give it a good shake!
To make the salad use either individual plates or a large platter and layer the salad leaves, roast onions, roast jerusalem artichokes and a generous drizzle of dressing then repeat. Top with the Parmesan shavings and maybe add some crunchy homemade croutons or toasted seeds. The separate ingredients could be prepared in advance and served at room temperature then the salad compiled just before serving.