Jerusalem artichokes or Sunchokes are extremely underrated. Not many people know about their existence let alone what to cook with them. They are like the weird kid on the block. That quirky odd looking one that doesn’t say much but when you get to know him, makes you wonder why you didn’t talk to him before.
Inside that odd looking exterior that a lot of the times gets mistaken by ginger or galangal, lays a silky, earthy, starchy flesh full of prebiotic fiber that our microbes absolutely love. In fact, 31% of their weight is fibre, one of the highest in the vegetable world.
If you’ve never tried them before, you may find the flavor a bit strong and unfamiliar but don’t be disappointed and give these roots a chance. They are delicious when roasted or made into a puree and they are in season for a few weeks only, so stop being judgmental about their appearance and enjoy their soft golden hearts.
SUNCHOKES, CAULIFLOWER AND HAZELNUTS
500g jerusalem artichokes 1/2 head cauliflower 80ml milk kefir or cream 2 heads garlic Knob of butter Extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper to taste
For the hazelnut salsa
1 cup hazelnuts A handful of thyme sprigs Zest of 1 lemon 3 garlic cloves 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper to taste
1 – First, let’s get the puree on the go. Preheat the oven at 220 degrees. Cut the cauliflower into small-ish florets and place them on a roasting tray. Grab the 2 heads of garlic and wrap them in some foil with a bit of olive oil and salt and place them on the tray with the cauliflower. Roast the garlic for about 20 mins or until is soft and the cauliflower for a bit longer (around 40 mins) until the edges are a bit burnt.
2 – When the cauliflower and garlic are ready, take them out of the oven and set them aside to cool. Bring the temperature of the oven down to 200 degrees. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on a roasting tray, cut the sunchokes in half and place them on the tray flesh side down. Lightly salt them and roast for about 30 mins or until golden all over turning them a couple of times.
3 – Whilst the sunchokes are roasting, we can quickly make our puree and hazelnut salsa. To make the puree, squeeze the garlic cloves out and place them in a food processor together with the cauliflower, the kefir or cream, butter, salt and pepper. Blitz for a few minutes until really smooth. If your puree is not smooth you can always pass it through a sieve or if you can’t be bothered, that’s totally cool, it will still taste the same. If the puree is too dry, add a bit more kefir or cream but not too much, we don’t want cauliflower soup! Transfer to a small pot ready for reheating later.
4 – To make the salsa, strip the thyme leaves, place them with the hazelnuts in a mortar and pestle and crush. We don’t want a paste, we want it chunky so don’t go too crazy. Grate the 3 cloves of garlic into it and mix, then add the lemon zest, olive oil salt and pepper and mix again. It shouldn’t be too dry so if it is, add a bit more oil until is runny.
5 – By now the sunchokes must be ready to get out the oven. Reheat your puree, place on a plate with the sunchokes on top and the hazelnut salsa. Eat. Repeat. Enjoy.
Notes: This dish is also super delicious with onion puree, bean puree or some crispy kale on the side. Try it!