27 January 2009

Root Vegetables

En français ici.
So I know winter is root vegetable time, but until I signed up for this CSA (which runs all year), I was not what you could call adventurous when it came to root vegetables. I love potatoes and carrots, classic, but I had never really bought and prepared some of the more "exotic" ones for myself. The CSA, however, has changed all that and my kitchen has become a festival of dirt-caked, knobbly roots: turnips, parsnips, celery root, beets, black radishes, etc.

An example of a good winter recipe around here is this potato-parsnip-carrot purée that D. made last week:

Just peel, chop and boil the root vegetables of your choice. When they're tender, drain the water and mash the vegetables with lots of butter, some milk, salt and pepper. Seriously, the only secret to good purée is butter. It may not be diet-friendly, but it's true.

This week's new root is the Jerusalem artichoke, a vegetable that I don't think I had ever tasted before, and certainly never cooked. The Jerusalem artichoke comes from North America and was first brought to European attention by Champlain when he was exploring Canada. Because of its resistance to cold and pests and how easy it is to grow, it was eaten extensively in France (and some other countries in Europe) during the Second World War and therefore has a very bad reputation here. It's seen as a rather low-life vegetable that you only eat if you're starving and cold and have nothing else. After having tasted it, I have no idea WHY it's not more popular. It tastes a lot like artichoke to me, perhaps a bit lighter, and I love artichoke. Even D. had to admit it was delicious. I served it sautéd with sage butter and with lentils on the side.

Jerusalem Artichoke with Sage Butter

7-8 Jerusalem artichokes (depending on size)
2 Tbsp olive oil

3 1/2 Tbsp butter
2 shallots, minced
1 Tbsp sage (I used dried, but if you have fresh use 4-5 leaves minced)

Peel, wash and grate the Jerusalem artichokes. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the grated Jerusalem artichokes for 7-10 minutes, until soft.

In the meantime, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the shallots and the sage and let cook 3-5 minutes, or until the shallots are tender.

Serve the Jerusalem artichokes with the sage butter drizzled generously on top.


Psychgrad said...

I certainly am pretty uninformed when it comes to root vegetables. I love artichokes, so I'm sure I would like the Jerusalem artichokes recipe.

So many recipes...so little time.

Maria said...

I have to admit I have never tried a Jerusalem artichoke. This looks quite good and I think I will seek them out next time I am at the market.

Cicero Sings said...

D recently read a whole biography on Champlain ... found it MOST interesting. He was quite the diplomat.

I've never had Jerusalem Artichokes before. I'll have to look for them in the super market. We get limited veggies up north ... but here in Vancouver, I might stand a chance.

Sam said...

I'm so glad you posted this, I never know what to do with Jerusalem artichokes! We tried them boiled but they weren't all that great, looks like sautéing's the way to go.

Hopie said...

Psychgrad - I was too until recently but, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention, er, invention of recipes that is, involving root vegetables :-)

Maria - You should give them a try! I'd love to hear what you do with them.

Cicero Sings - Interesting. I should read up on Champlain! And you should definitely look for Jerusalem artichokes if you can find them! Apparently they're very resistant -- would have to be if they grow in Canada I guess.

Sam - I definitely recommend sautéing! They have a rather light flavor that maybe gets boiled out of them if you go that route. Yesterday, I sliced and sautéd one up in a little olive oil and added it to a couscous salad -- also very yummy.

Apples and Butter said...

I think Bon Appetit has a Jerusalem Artichoke puree for one of their supper clubs, but I have only made it just that once. Thanks for reminding me about them! I will have to try some purees this weekend!

Anonymous said...

It's fun to see what you're doing with your panier! I was super psyched about that courge last week - do you have any idea what kind it is?

I roasted the parsnips with some apples (also from the panier) and rosemary. It was an excellent side dish for chicken.

I'm still stumped on the black radishes. And what is igname, anyway?

Ivy said...

Until now I thought that CSA was only for the United States. I didn't know that you could order from France as well. I've only recently heard of Jerusalem Artichokes from blogs. Will you believe that I cooked and ate sweet potato for the first time today but it was great. I've never tried Parsnips before.

Anthony said...

I want some of that!