Jerusalem artichokes are currently in season– small, knobbly vegetables that look a bit like grubby pieces of root ginger. They’re not exactly pretty and they have a reputation for making you a bit windy, but don’t chuck them just yet. Let us try to persuade you to give them a go…
Jerusalem artichokes are very good for you. They’re full of fibre and rich in iron (which will boost your energy), as well as potassium and vitamin B1, which helps support nerve and muscle function. One way to avoid the gassiness is to eat them little and often, to build up your tolerance, or to boil them in lemon juice (or pickle them in vinegar), which will help to reduce any embarrassing after-effects. Another tip is to cook them with a sprinkling of fennel seeds or nibble on them afterwards, as fennel seeds are said to help aid digestion by reducing inflammation.
You don’t have to peel them – just scrub vigorously in a bit of warm water, but if you do want to remove their skins, scrape at them with a teaspoon (this also works brilliantly for ginger). Raw, they are crunchy and sweet, a little like water chestnuts. Slice them thinly or slice into ‘matchsticks’ and add to a salad – they’ll suit Thai-style or slaw-type salads with lots of fresh zingy flavours like citrus and chilli.
To cook Jerusalem artichokes:
Make a root veg soup – roast the veg for extra sweetness (with red onion, sage, garlic), then whizz with stock and sprinkle with parsley or chives – or see http://healthylivingplatform.org/project/root-vegetable-and-wild-garlic-soup
Malika, one of our chefs, suggests slicing them thinly, mixing them with olive oil, crushed garlic and dried or fresh woody herbs (e.g, oregano, rosemary, thyme) and roasting in a 180ºC oven for 25 minutes. Mix with potato if you’re not fully committed to the Jerusalem artichoke experience.
Serve alongside other roasted root veg or add to a salad with watercress, orange segments, goat’s cheese and croutons. You could also roast larger ones whole or hasselback style (cut deep slices into them and insert bits of bay and garlic into the gaps).
This article was written by Anna who is a food writer based in south London. She is interested in healthy, happy eating and fairer food systems.