Text by Felicity Slater. Photo by Elisa Franco.
Jerusalem artichokes, (also known as sunchokes) are something of an “it” vegetable right now. Their name might confuse you if you’ve never seen one before. At first glance, you’ll discover that they do not, in fact, look like artichokes. Rather, they are small, tan tubers, resembling a cross between a potato and a ginger root. Paradoxically, they are both an evergreen perennial, and part of the genus Helianthus, meaning that they are a cousin of what we traditionally refer to as the sunflower. In fact, there are many perennial members of the Helianthus family. The part of the sunchoke that we eat is actually the root of a flower.
Don’t let this complexity steer you away from sunchokes. These little root vegetables have a delicious, delicate, and, indeed, artichoke-y flavor, and the texture of a perfect potato. Nutritionally speaking, they are rich in iron and potassium, and are prized for being low in starch and full of the prebiotic, low-glycemic inulin, which many believe makes them a healthy choice for people who are managing type-2 diabetes. They are also an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, making them altogether much more nutritious than your average starchy vegetable.
Sunchokes can be prepared in many ways, although eating them raw is not always advisable – doing so causes stomach issues for some. I chose to sauté them with sea salt, olive oil, and garlic. They were delicious. They crisped nicely, and tasted not unlike a french fry with a more complex flavor. Roasting is another popular method of preparing sunchokes. They are also touted as excellent when puréed and included in soups, because of their unusual, interesting flavor. Pick some up on your next trip to the co-op – you’ll discover an exciting, healthy new root vegetable to add to your winter cooking repertoire.´
As of November 10th, the member price for sunchokes in $4.46/lb. The non-member price is $6.30/lb.