Friday 15 February 2008

baked jerusalem artichokes

When I saw the pretty, vibrant Jerusalem artichokes in the grocery store, I just had to snap some up.

I had no idea what I was going to do with them, but I know they aren’t easy to come by so I had to buy them then and there and worry about finding a recipe later.

After much Googling and the discovery of some lovely looking recipes, I stumbled across this Jamie Oliver side dish that won me over completely and utterly.

I had cooked with Jerusalem artichokes twice before and both times were a horrible disasters. I was in my early twenties and had no idea what I was doing. The dishes I concocted were so awful Jonas and I couldn’t eat them and I think it turned us off the distinctive taste of Jerusalem artichokes for some time after that.

But thanks to Jamie all that has changed.

This recipe is simply divine. It’s not very healthy but my god it’s worth the calories. The flavour combinations are just wonderful and you could easily do the same dish with potatoes instead.

This recipe not only won me over to Jerusalem artichokes, but it also started my love affair with thyme. I have made two other thyme laden recipes since and I haven’t looked back!

Baked Jerusalem Artichokes w Bread Crumbs, Thyme & Lemon

Recipe from The Naked Chef 2 by Jamie Oliver. Serves 4-6.


285ml double cream or créme fraîche
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 good handful of fresh thyme, leaves picked and chopped
3 handfuls of grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1kg Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and sliced as thick as a pencil
2 good handfuls of fresh breadcrumbs
Olive oil
1. Preheat your oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas7.
2. In a bowl mix your cream, lemon juice, garlic half the thyme and most of the Parmesan, and season well to taste.
3. Throw in the sliced Jerusalem artichokes. Mix well and place everything in an ovenproof baking dish.
4. Mix the breadcrumbs with the rest of the thyme and Parmesan and some salt and pepper.
5. Sprinkle all the flavoured breadcrumbs over the artichokes and drizzle with a little olive oil.
6. Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes until the artichokes are tender and the breadcrumbs golden.

It’s not from Jerusalem and it’s not even an artichoke. So goes the story of the Jerusalem artichoke.

Also known as sunroot, sunchoke and topinambur, its botanical name is Helianthus tuberosus and it is native to the north east of the USA (from North Dakota to Maine to northern Florida and Texas.

Europeans first took notice of the sunchoke in 1605 when a French explorer, Samuel de Champlain, found them at Cape Cod, but Native Americans had been cultivating them for some time prior to that.

The plant can grow up to 3 metres tall and the gnarly, uneven tubers are similar to ginger roots with a nutty, artichoke flavour.

So how did it get its name? They are a member of the Asteraceae family (think daisies) and related to the sunflower, producing large yellow flowers. It is said that Europeans named the plant Girasole, which is Italian for sunflower and that the pronunciation of Girasole sounds similar to Jerusalem and hence the name evolved. No one really knows if this is true, but it sounds good.

The plant yields good amounts of fructose, are high in potassium, fibre and phosphorus, and could turn out to be a good source of ethanol biofuel. Their iron content is said to be similar to red meat, weight to weight.

They contain large amounts of a carbohydrate inulin which can cause digestive problems for some people, including stomach aches and flatulence. This led to rumours that they were inedible, but actually the presence of inulin instead of starch makes them perfect for diabetics.

Fresh roots should be plump and firm because soft, wrinkled roots can have a bitter flavour. If boiled they can become very mushy so steaming and baking are the preferred methods of cooking, although they can be eaten raw. Many cooks recommend scrubbing rather than peeling the tubers.

This is my contribution to this week's Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Erin from The Skinny Gourmet. Head on over for the recap.




  1. I'm a fan of Jerusalem artichokes - despite their well-known after effects! This recipe looks lovely - warming, hearty, and nourishing. I'll be posting another J. artichoke on my blog very soon, too!

  2. Anna, the 'chokes look fabulous and I assume they are a great substitute for potatoes.

    I've yet to east these but I'll be on the lookout for them this year.

  3. The minute I saw them, I thought it was ginger. Great info and the recipe too.

  4. Oh I would be so excited if I ever saw these in my store. I've been wanting to try them for ages. Sounds delicious!

  5. I love these gnarly guys! I only discovered them last year, but they are very plentiful in my area over the winter.
    Great gratin - it's next on my list to try!

  6. Sounds interesting - is there a good substitute for the double cream?

  7. Prepared this for tonight's dinner and it was lovely. Great alternative to gratin potatoes. Thanks !

  8. Hi Anna,
    I was searching for a recipe that uses Jerusalem Artichoke's as they arrived in my Food Connect Box ( this week. I had no idea how to cook them!
    Thanks for posting this recipe, it sounds delicious and I shall give it a whirl, however I will be substituting the cream for ricotta cheese as that is all I have in my fridge at the moment and with the vodka in my belly I do beleive I will not be going out tonight :)

  9. I planted four small tubers that I got in the Big Name supermarket three years ago in spring. This year I will be rooting out one of the two patches that have grown healthily, since I understand now that I will never be rid of them ! They need to be in a corner where they can row tall. I noticed the tell-tale signs of the tubers filling out a couple of weeks ago, when the earth started to heave around the base of the sun-flower stalks, so have added more mulch and started to dig up some tubers. They are plump and white, and I scrub them and leave them in a bowl of water with a squirt of lemon juice in it, in the fridge. Then I can grate some onto a salad plate for a meal or slice a little into a sandwich at lunchtime. Tonight I added several to a dish of roasted mixed veg spiced with balsamic vinegar. They are versatile and tasty, but I do not make a WHOLE meal of them due to the side-effects ! But FREE food, hey, that's a bonus (selling for $AU5.95 a kilo at the moment and I have kilo's under my soil!)

  10. I've also grown my own from year to year. It started with a handful given to me by a friend some 15 years ago. Just harvested a bucketful. About eight or ten small ones will go back in the ground, the rest will be eaten over the next few months. We never peel them - just scrub them clean. They keep quite well in plastic bags in the crisper compartment of the fridge. Great sliced into stir-fries, or just sliced and fried in a bit of oil as "chips". When growing, use a sunny spot. They don't always flower (depends on the season) but this doesn't stop them from growing tubers. When the stems die right down, cut them off near ground level and you then still have several weeks to dig them up.

  11. I bought some yesterday,
    grown locally, can't wait to try, maybe even grow some myself, thanks for the info....


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