Neither from Jerusalem, nor artichokes…In fact, ’Jerusalem’ is thought to be a corruption of the Italian girasole or ‘sunflower’; these artichokes are actually tubers from a type of sunflower native to North America, where they were first noticed by Samuel de Champlain.  They were cultivated extensively by native Americans long before the arrival of the Europeans. Their mild, nutty flavour has been likened to that of artichoke hearts – hence the ‘artichoke’. In the 1920s, Jerusalem artichokes were a commercial source of fructose and were expected to replace beet and cane as a source of sugar.  While they never really did, the sugar they contain, inulin, is difficult to digest, making these tubers a low-cal option suitable for diabetics – but also causing flatulence in people with a sensitivity to it…

New York Times food critic Mark Bittman writes in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (Double B Publishing, 2007) that while Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes or sunroots, as he prefers to call them) can be peeled, “not only is it a total hassle, but you lose about half the flesh in the process.” Just scrub them well before cooking. He suggests sautéing, braising or glazing them. We think another great way to eat them is in a soup. We propose two recipes to start: pan-cooked artichokes à la Bittman and an easy cream soup.

Pan-Cooked Jerusalem Artichokes – 26/10/2011

4 Servings

  • About 1 ½ pounds Jerusalem artichokes
  • 3 or 4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic or shallot or ¼ cup chopped onion
  • Chopped parsley leaves for garnish
  • Lemon wedges
  1. Slice washed tubers about 1/8 inch thick.
  2. Put oil in large, deep skillet over medium heat. When hot, add Jerusalem artichokes, a few slices at a time, spreading them out around the pan; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook, stirring and turning occasionally and adjusting the heat so they sizzle without burning, until tender and golden, about 20 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and continue cooking until nicely browned and tender, about 5 minutes more.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning, then garnish with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup – 26/10/2011

Serves 4

  • 1 lb Jerusalem artichokes
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 600 ml chicken stock
  • Strip of orange peel
  • Salt and finely ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsps thick cream
  1. Scrub and roughly chop artichokes.
  2. Heat oil in heavy-based pan and add onions. Cook until translucent, add the garlic, continue cooking for a couple of minutes and add artichokes.
  3. Toss well to coat with oil; pour in chicken stock. Bring to a boil, add orange peel and season. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until cooked.
  4. Remove from heat, discard peel and blend in food processor. Return to pan, adjust seasoning, stir in cream and serve.