When I found these two small unusual looking tubers in my veggie box subscribtion I had completely no idea what are they and how to prepare them. Quick investigation (thanks google) and came out that my mysterious veggies are sunchokes. Also called: topinambur or sunroot, Jerusalem artichoke, earth apple or wild sunflower – depending on where you live. Topinambur sounds familiar but it reminds me of long thin root veg, and the one I got were small kind of ginger-like shape with brown potato-like skin.
Came out that sunchokes are species of sunflower native to North America, they vary in colour from pale brown to white, red, or purple and can be eaten raw, cooked or pickled. Despite one of its names, the Jerusalem artichoke has no relationship to Jerusalem, and it is not a type of artichoke though the two are distantly related as members of the daisy family. Italian settlers in the United States called the plant girasole, the Italian word for sunflower, because of its familial relationship to the garden sunflower. Over time, the name girasole in southern Italian dialects was corrupted to Jerusalem. Can you be more confused?
They are not articholes, nor sunflowers, look like ginger, but doesn’t taste like ginger at all. Actually for me they taste more like a potato, but much more creamy than starchy and with slight nutty flavour and also quite sweet. Although I tasted only baked version, so I’m very curious how raw one taste like.
About 150g of raw slices sunchoke contains about 3g of protein, 26g of carbs, 2.4g of fiber, 14g sugar. Although it contains lots of carbs, most of them are not sttarch but inulin. Inulin is a type of soluble fiber that balances blood sugar, and also acts as a prebiotic. Prebiotics are compounds that feed the good bacteria (probiotics) in our gut, thus enhancing digestive and immune health. It stimulates the development of a normal intestinal flora while inhibiting the growth of putrefactive and pathogenic bacteria, and maintains the correct pH. It can be helpful in any food poisoning. Moreover, inulin has an immunostimulating effect on the immune system as well as to bind and excrete harmful compounds that are left in your intestines.
So I started looking for a recipe inspiration as I always do with foods that I never prepared before. And I found a perfect one, as I had (almost) all ingredients. So that’s my version of this sunchoke and apple salad, prepared with the leftovers I already had in my kitchen. I had one organic Gala or Pink Lady apple, leftovers of smoked mackerel insteadt of trout, ordinary brown onion instead of shallots, plus some spring onions from the same veggie box instead of fresh basil. And I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with the final taste. It looked a bit like randomly chosed ingredients, but somehow worked together very well.
Tangy and crispy apple, mellow and gentle taste of baked sunchoke, smoked fatty fish broken a bit by the taste of apple cider vinegar and onion. And lots of black pepper that I really enjoyed in this salad, all of that made a great salad I have ate with pleasure.
I’m definitely curious of more sunchoke/topinambur recipe options, and I will be looking for it in my next veggie boxes. That’s what I really like about my veg box subscription – I’m sure I’ve mentioned that before. Each time I found a veg I’ve never tried before I learn something new. And that forces me to experiment, try new recipes rather than stick to couple ones I know by heart and that are easy and convenient. And I encourage you to do the same – look for new ingredients you’ve never tried, find new tastes and flavours. You might fail in your discoveries but you also might find your new favourite taste.
sunchoke (topinambur) & apple salad
with smoked mackerel
INGREDIENTS (for one large portion):
- 2 sunchoke (topinambur)
- 1 small apple
- half of small brown onion
- handful of chopped spring onions
- smoked mackerel
- freshly ground black pepper
- pinch of salt
- chopped dill for garnish
- 1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp olive oil + tiny bit for a drizzle
Thoroughly wash sunchokes and slice them in quite thick slices (leave the skin on). Sprinkle with black pepper and pinch of salt and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat. Prepare baking tray and piece of baking paper. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Spread sunchoke slices on the tray and bake for about 25 minutes, until they become golden and crispy on the edges. Then remove from the oven and let it cool down completely.
Cut apple in thin slices, drizzle with apple cider vinegar to prevent from getting dark and unappetizing. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Add very thinly sliced half of small onion and chopped spring onions.
Arrange on a plate together with sunchokes, add bits of smoked mackerel. Drizzle with olive oil, garnish with fresh dill and enjoy.