Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Most Anarchic of Vegetables: Jerusalem Artichokes

Get a load of these gnarly tubers. Gastropunk calls them “the most anarchic of vegetables.”

Jerusalem artichokes, also called sunchokes or topinambours, are in season just now. I hadn’t cooked any of these for about twenty years, when they had a brief burst of trendiness. I didn’t see what the big deal was at back then, no more could I discern any resemblance whatsoever to artichokes, but this time, I think I get it. I prepared them as I would artichokes—steamed with vinaigrette—and they had some real artichokey verve.

Jerusalem artichokes vinaigrette

2 pounds Jerusalem artichokes (or as many as you have)

½ cup balsamic vinegar

1 ½ cups olive oil

½ bunch dill

2 or 3 cloves garlic


Peel the Jerusalem artichokes. This will be tricky because of all the bumps, but it is necessary; the peels can be unpleasantly harsh. The peeled tubers will begin to darken very quickly, so drop them into a large bowl of acidulated water. Cut the vegetables to the desired size (about one inch thick by whatever knobbiness they have at that latitude is good). Cook the artichokes in boiling salted water for about thirty minutes, or until tender.

While the artichokes are cooking prepare the garlic and dill vinaigrette. Combine the vinegar, dill, and garlic in a blender and blend until liquefied. With the machine running, drizzle in the oil. Taste for acidity and salt.

Drain the cooked artichokes and put them in a bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables while they are still hot. You will have some vinaigrette left over, but there is nothing wrong with that. These can be served warm, at room temperature, or chilled. I like them best at room temperature.

See Sweetnicksfor vegetables of all shapes.

Now that I think of it, I would say that both white salsify and cardoons are at least as anarchic as Jerusalem artichokes, if anarchic means “difficult to peel.” Coincidentally, I strolled over to the anarchist book fair last shabes with my venerable folks, where we saw reproductions of some gorgeous posters and spoke briefly to vegetable enthusiast Arieh Lebowitz at the Jewish Labor Committee.

The Yiddish word for Jerusalem artichoke is ערדבאַר” or “erdbar”, which means “earth-pear.”

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Blogger maltese parakeet said...

yum. i'd heard of these but never knew how to prepare them. thanks for the introduction.

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Ulrike said...

I have them in my garden for the first time. The first green leaves are coming out of the soil and next winter I think I have enough to harvest them. I made a wonderful soup and since then I was looking for the topinambur.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Willa said...

I have to laugh- I thought you were calling them anarchic because they are so invasive in the garden. They are also supposed to be good for diabetics- this article on About.com has a lot of information- http://homecooking.about.com/library/weekly/aa102300a.htm.

I lost my plants when we moved, guess I'll have to think about growing them again if the really taste "artichoky."

7:25 PM  
Blogger the chocolate lady מרת שאקאלאד said...

maltese parakeet, I hope you'll enjoy them.
ulrike, I will be trying your soup; I came across a similar palestine soup once, but I forgot where, so I am especially pleased to have it,
willa, maybe I should have spelled it as "artichokey" I might amend the post.

10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Please consider writing news pieces or an op-ed for Jewrusalem: Israeli Uncensored News. We strive to present different views and opinions while rejecting political correctness. Ideally, we try to make the news "smart and funny." Thus, your input is very welcome.


4:54 AM  
Anonymous Cialis said...

Those resemble ginger root!

4:31 PM  

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