This post is going to be short and sweet, because I got started late this afternoon and was fidgeting around with graphics when I should have been writing.
I love love love SUNCHOKES, and today I want to share the simplest recipe on earth that yields a healthy, filling, delicious root veggie side dish WAAAAY more exciting than a potato. OK, here it is.
So what’s a sunchoke?
Jerusalem artichoke? No? Same thing. The names are interchangeable, even though this tasty gem has absolutely nothing to do with the artichoke family, which is a thistle. Rather, as the first name I used may indicate, “sun”choke, this hardy plant is related to the sunflower and grows tall with yellow flowers just like its cousin. The stalks grow 8 to 10 feet tall, and the underground rhizomes spread in a tangled network just below the surface, growing into gnarled starchy edible roots. According to most gardening websites, when the plants start to wilt and turn brown, the roots are ready to harvest.
I got impatient in my own garden, however.
I know, shocking.
We bought a couple of sunchoke seedlings last fall, and without doing any research at all, stuck them in the back of one of our two back yard raised beds. They did nothing but wilt and die, so we removed them and moved on with life. This spring, little sprouts came from where we’d removed them, so we let a few of them grow to see what would happen. They grew and grew until they were casting a shadow over the rest of the box, at which point we cut them back and finally decided to actually do a little research on the crop.
PANIC ensued when I read that they are known to take over, spreading rapidly wherever they are planted. We planted them RIGHT next to our asparagus, which can take up to three years to yield a crop — not something I wanted to risk. Out they came!
These little babies became dinner that very night.
- 1 lb sunchokes
- Avocado oil (spray form is easier to work with, but drizzling from the bottle works too)
- REAL salt or a mild seasoned salt
- cracked red pepper
- black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400
- Cut sunchokes into small chunks and spread across a cookie sheet in one layer ( no overlapping)
- Spray or sprinkle avocado oil over the chunks and toss to ensure that all sides are covered
- Sprinkle salt and pepper over (use cracked red pepper sparingly)
- Toss again to ensure the seasons cover the chokes
- Roast on 400 for 30 to 35 minutes (could take longer, depending on your oven)
- They're ready when they feel soft like cooked potatoes
- Try to make the chunks as uniform in size as possible to ensure even cooking. You might end up with some soft and some crunchy, but the crunchy ones are good too!
Potatoes are much easier to find than sunchokes, and they don’t take as long to cook, so why should you go to the effort to eat roots other than potatoes? I’ll tell you why!
Sunchokes are high in fiber, especially oligo-fructose inulin, which as I’ve shared in my resistant starch potato recipe, is awesome if you want to consume a starchy food without the glycemic load. The fiber in a sunchoke balances out the starch, making it a great addition to your plate if you’re watching your carbs.
Sunchokes are also rich in antioxidants, including vitamins A, C, E, and carotenoids; all great cancer-fighters and more prevalent in sunchokes than your average potato.
100 grams of fresh sunchoke provides 429 mg or 9% of daily required levels of potassium, which is an important mineral for the active among us (it’s an electrolyte) aiding in muscle recovery and preventing muscle cramping.
100 grams of fresh sunchoke contains 3.4 mg or 42.5% of iron, probably the highest amount of iron for the common edible roots and tubers. (source) Iron deficiency in the US is relatively common, but supplementation can lead to undesirable consequences like cramps and constipation. Eating a food naturally rich in iron is a great solution, because when iron is packaged up how nature intended, those side effects disappear.
Sunchokes are also rich in B vitamins, especially thiamine, an essential nutrient for healthy hair, skin, and nails. (source)
Enjoy these nutrition powerhouses and the delicious, unique flavor that comes with them. Today I’m sharing a simple roasted root recipe, but you can make a killer creamy soup with these guys too. Try it out! And enjoy!