A look into the daily agenda of the average American.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The ROOT of Deliciousness! The Jerusalem Artichoke.


     Contrary to the name, Jerusalem artichokes are a native of eastern North America including here in Florida.  They have been cultivated by native Americans for centuries. They are comprised of about 10% protein, no fat, and a very low starch content.  They are thought to be a good food for people wanting to lose weight and people with type 2 diabetes because of the high inulin (the stored fructose) levels.   Fructose is easier on the body than is sucrose since fructose doesn't stimulate the pancreas hardly at all.

     Most recipes I found called for peeling and boiling the artichokes, which was the method I chose for this recipe.  I consulted one of my cooking bibles, "The Silver Spoon", for this.  There are a few pages with different recipes but I was drawn to the one where you boil them in cream.  Earlier today I made a trip to my favorite market, Mazzaro's Italian Market, here in St Pete, FL where I purchased a delicious fig sage cream sauce and also the artichokes, some fresh homemade pasta, and some yummy organic rainbow carrots.

Here are the Jerusalem artichokes.  After peeling them add
them to a bowl of cold water so they don't oxidize and turn black.
After you are done peeling them, chop them into bite sized pieces.
This will make them cook at a uniformed rate.
Ain't nobody got time for overcooked or
undercooked Jerusalem artichokes!!

I heated the delicious Fig Sage Sauce in a little sauce pan
then I added the artichokes.  I turned it down to low and very
gently simmered them for about 10 min or until they were fork tender.
They can get mushy if overcooked.  Unless, of course, that was your
goal… then by all means cook the crap out of them!

Set the sauce aside off the heat and finish up the rest of the meal.
These are freaking fantastic!
One of my favorite root vegetables, the rainbow carrot.
Since they are organic I just washed them really well and chopped of the ends.
 I don't like to peel organic produce since the skin often hold extra nutrients,
plus they look great when they are left in their natural state.
Chop them in half, coat in olive oil and kosher salt and throw into a 400 degree oven for about 20-30 min
or till they are caramelized and delicious.  
What planet did these come from you ask?  They are clusters of alien offspring
ready to sprout into full grown….
…just kidding, they are mushrooms.
These are brown beech mushrooms or shimeji mushrooms.
These are available in specialty markets (like Mazzaro's)
and also in most Asian markets (such as Lin Farmers Market where I got these).  I often get a bag of both the brown and
the white mushrooms, as I always enjoy the look.
Either that or I am really OCD and just have to have it that way. :)

After you have chopped the mushrooms off their clustered inedible base throw
them in a hot pan with a few tablespoons of butter.  Throw in a clove or two (or three)
of chopped garlic, just don't burn it!  Beech mushrooms need to be cooked
or they taste bitter and unpleasant.  After cooking, however, they are delightful and
nutty.  
At this point you should already have a large pot of boiling water salted and ready to receive
whatever portion of pasta you have chosen.  I am using fresh homemade whole wheat
pasta which only takes a few minutes to cook.

Reserva a little pasta water in case you need to loosen up your sauce.
Drain the pasta and immediately add it to the beech mushrooms which should be
getting a little seared coloring on the outside.
Now add the fig sage sauce that has the Jerusalem artichokes in it.
Toss together and keep the heat on if the sauce is too thin.
You can also add some ricotta (I used fresh ricotta impastata which melts
like an angel in a bath of searing hot lava) to make the sauce more
thick and rich, maybe about 2-4 tablespoons.

I tossed a few extra dried figs I had in with the pasta sauce.
There were some in there, but I wanted
a really fabulously figgy sauce.

The last photo is the finished product
plated up with the simple roast carrots.

It was really simple, I promise!! :)







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