Jerusalem artichokes—or sunchokes—are new to me. I’m new to them, too. But now I know that we get along fabulously, and I plan to have them over very, very often.
They came in a recent vegetable delivery, golden and nubby. They’re not exactly artichokes, in case you’re wondering. They’re the “nonfibrous, plump tuber” of the North American sunflower, as my reference book, On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee, would have it. And I’m sure McGee is right about that, because he was certainly right when he declared the Jerusalem artichoke “pleasantly moist, crunchy, and sweet when raw” and “soft and sweet after brief cooking.” I would also add that it’s vaguely sour, and definitely nutty.
At any rate, they’re lovely the Yotam Ottolenghi way. (Incidentally, Ottolenghi was born in Jerusalem, while the Jerusalem artichoke was not.) The following recipe is inspired by a recipe in his book, Plenty. To his olive oil drizzle, he adds basil. He also tosses fried manouri (or halloumi) cheese at the end, neither of which I had. But I encourage you to try. Like McGee, Ottolenghi knows what he’s talking about.
Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes with Flash Charred Tomatoes
Adapted from a recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty
Serves four as a side dish
1 lb Jerusalem artichokes
The juice of two lemons
A few sprigs of thyme
2 cups plus 3 tbsp water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb cherry tomatoes, halved
salt and pepper
For the parsley oil:
A very large handful of parley leaves, washed and picked from the stems
1 garlic clove
140 ml olive oil
A good pinch of coarse salt
Preheat the oven to 450 F. Combine the first 2 cups of water with the juice of one of the lemons in a medium sized bowl. Peel and slice the Jerusalem artichokes into 1 cm slices, dropping them into the lemon water as you do so (this will keep them from browning).
Drain the artichokes, and place them in an ovenproof dish. Toss with the thyme, the rest of the lemon juice, the last 3 tablespoons of water, one tablespoon of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Cover the dish with tin foil, and roast for 40 to 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the other tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. You want it to be quite hot, just on the verge of smoking (but don’t quite let it smoke—that would mean your oil is burning). Flash fry the tomatoes, tossing them occasionally. This might take 3 or 4 minutes. You want them charred, but only just so.
Next, make the parsley oil. Simply whizz the ingredients in a food processor: the parsley, oil, garlic and salt. You want to end up with a consistency you can drizzle.
When your artichokes are ready, they will be tender with a bit of bite left in them. Toss with the tomatoes. Serve hot out of the oven, or at room temperature. Drizzle the parley oil directly onto the plate with the artichokes and tomatoes.