Friday, December 4, 2009
Topinambours belong to a class of what French people are calling légumes oubliés, or "forgotten vegetables" that are coming back into style as people become more interested in eating locally. The English name for them is Jerusalem artichokes, which just sounds wrong to me because they have nothing to do with Jerusalem and are more like potatoes than artichokes. They're a member of the sunflower family.
Apparently they grow like weeds. That's according to Ed Ward, who says that he refuses to pay for them since his garden was once overtaken by Jerusalem artichokes. I can only be jealous! They are quite tasty and very interesting nutritionally. One of the best plant sources of iron, they have a similar texture to potatoes but contain half the calories. And they have a completely unique flavor that is indeed similar to that of an artichoke.
Here's a simple salad to boost your iron intake without digging into a bloody steak.
1 lb Jerusalem artichokes
red wine vinegar
1/2 red onion
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Scrub the Jerusalem artichokes until clean. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the Jerusalem artichokes; cook until they are tender but not totally mushy (around 8 minutes). Drain and allow to cool slightly in a colander.
Meanwhile, slice the red onion very thinly and place in a bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and cover with a few teaspoons of vinegar. Allow to marinate for around 10 minutes.
Peel the Jerusalem artichokes: their skins come off fairly easily after they've been boiled (just like tomatoes), except around some of the more knobby parts, which I just pop into my mouth.
Slice the Jerusalem artichokes thinly lengthwise and arrange on a plate. Drizzle with the vinegar mixture, scatter a few onion slices on top. Add salt, pepper and olive oil to taste.