By Leika Suzumura, Community Kitchens Northwest Program Manager
Don’t be fooled by the name, the Jerusalem artichoke is neither an artichoke nor from Jerusalem. Perhaps that is why it is becoming more commonly known as the “sunchoke,” or it’s native name “sun root.” The knobby roots dug up in the fall and winter look quite contrary to the beautiful sunflower they exhibit in the summer.
From a health perspective, sunchokes are a good alternative to potatoes for those looking to lower their carbohydrate intake. Inulin is the main “carbohydrate” which is a fiber instead of a starch. This allows it to function as a pre-biotic (food for pro-bioitics, the friendly bacteria living symbiotically in our digestive tract) and digests into fructose rather than glucose making it more stabilizing for diabetics to eat.
The flavor and texture of sunchokes is unique, nutty with the crunch of a water chestnut; delicious both raw or cooked. It can be peeled easiest with the side of a spoon (similar to ginger), though like most root vegetables, an abundance of valuable nutrients are found in the skin and are edible.
Sunchoke Mashed Potatoes
This seasonal root adds a unique nutty flavor to this classic holiday dish! Makes 6-8 servings.
• 2 pounds russet potatoes or other variety of choice
• 1 pound sunchokes
• ¼ cup butter
• 1 cup sour cream
• 1-2 teaspoons salt
• ½-1 teaspoon white pepper
• Rinse sunchokes with a brush to get dirt from crevices; cut into 1 inch pieces.
• Peel and cut potatoes into 1 inch cubes.
• Place a pot of water on high heat. Boil potatoes and sunchokes until soft.
• Mash together with butter and sour cream.
• Season with salt and white pepper to taste.
Originally printed in Seattle Tilth’s newsletter, Way to Grow, December 2013 – January 2014.