Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Brown, knobbly skin, hard white flesh, and dug from the earth just like a potato, the Jerusalem artichoke looks more like a stem of ginger than an out-of-ground thistle - which, with a surname like artichoke, is what we generally expect. Bearing no relation to the globe arty - no leaves to dip in butter; no hearts to preserve in oil - they often get overlooked. While snapped up at markets by keen cooks on the look out for seasonal Winter veg, the rest of us leave them sitting. But we shouldn't dismiss these hairy outcasts.

When peeled and roasted they can be souped, gratined, and mashed - an interesting change to the usual tatties. They have a sweet, earthy taste, brought out even more when the skin in left on. Which is why I do just that with this warm salad. Pair it with smokey and honey flavours and you'd never know you were eating the bulb of a sunflower.

So, next time you're at the local market, pick up a Jerusalem. And roast it good.

serves 4

5 medium sized knobs of Jerusalem artichoke (approx. 500g)
2 large raw beetroot, peeled
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
6 rashers dry cured pancetta
3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
generous pinch salt and pepper
2 sprigs fresh thyme

seasonal baby salad leaves (spinach, beetroot, rocket) optional

Preheat the oven to 220°C/ 425°F/ Gas mark 7.

Quarter the artichoke bulbs, and the peeled raw beetroot in the same way. Throw into a small, but deep roasting tin. Add the garlic cloves and place the strips of pancetta on top. Drizzle with the olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. After adding the thyme - no need to take the leaves from the stem - give the tin a shake so that the oil coats the veg.

Leave to roast for 40 minutes, shaking a few times to avoid sticking. Check one bit of artichoke with a knife to check it is soft and tender.

Dress the salad with a balsamic dressing and throw over the roast. Eh voila. The perfect Winter lunchtime treat. It couldn't be easier.

1 comment:

  1. Quick, easy, healthy and delicious. Plus, it sounds amazingly exotic and perfect for Valentine's Day!