A little while ago I was happily reminded of how sublime these knobbly little fellows can be. I met them again as one un-assuming little dish in an array of mezze, seeminly boiled or baked in a lemony-oily sauce. They were silken and tangy and slightly nutty.
I'm fond of jerusalem artichokes. Maybe partly because I have a fondness in general for 'ugly' vegetables, and probably a lot because I remember digging up artichokes in my parent's garden one winter, and I remember the sheer joy that came from plunging fingers into soft soil and unearthing first one silvery nugget, then two, then four, then a whole heaving bunch of them. Something so lovely about this bounteousness emerging from a barren earth.
And because they taste good. I know some find them bland and un-arresting. But they have to me a flavour quite velvety and delicate and delicious.
Good in soups, with lots of thyme and creme fraiche. Also good in this kind of warm salad/mezze dish, which I created based on the memory of the little 'chokes I had in Turkey the other week, and with the leaves of a magnificent bunch of celery which the little shop sells. They have a lovely soft celery flavour to them.
Jerusalem Artichokes with Celery Leaves and Yoghurt
1. Peel your jerusalem artichokes (3-4 for each portion), and cut into c.10mm slices. Place in a small saucepan with a generous splash of olive oil, the juice of a lemon (for two portions, more for more), a clove of garlic - minced fine, salt and pepper.
2. Cook over a low heat for 30-40 minutes, shaking every now and then to make sure it doesn't stick, until the chokes are soft to a knife.
3. Add a couple of handfuls of celery leaves, replace the lid and return to the heat so they can steam for a further 5-10 minutes.
4. Turn out on to a plate and garnish with fresh plain yoghurt, chopped parsley, more lemon juice and pepper.