The sunchoke - also known as the Jerusalem artichoke - is a strange-looking root vegetable with a starchy flesh perfect for soups, stews, and even kettle chips. Its taste is reminiscent of jicama or a water chestnut - crisp with a hint of the savory artichoke flavor from which it gets its name.
The sunchoke has a number of nutritional benefits, but are perhaps most prominent as a source of prebiotics - the 'fuel' of probiotics that serve as an essential part of gastrointestinal health.
Prebiotics serve the body in a number of ways. As indicated in the above infographic, they not only provide essential dietary fiber, but assist with digestive issues and the absorption of calcium.
Below are some recipes that highlight the sunchoke. Try any of the following in your own kitchen to reap the benefits of active prebiotics!
Smoky Sunchoke & Cauliflower Soup
(From Choosing Raw)
MAKES 6 SERVINGS
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 white or yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon harissa powder
1 pound sunchokes, peeled and quartered
1 medium head cauliflower, chopped into large florets (about 1- 1 1/2 pounds)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
1/4 cup (1 ounce) raw cashews, soaked for a few hours and drained
1 scant tablespoon lemon juice
1) Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion. Sauté the onion for 5 minutes, or until it's clear and soft. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute, or until the garlic is fragrant. Add the salt, smoked paprika, sweet paprika, and harissa to the pot, and mix the spices into the onion/garlic mixture.
2) Add the sunchokes and cauliflower to the pot, along with the vegetable broth and water. Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. When it boils, lower it to a simmer and cover it. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until both the sunchokes and the cauliflower are tender.
3) Transfer half of the soup to a blender and add half of the cashews. Blend the mixture till smooth, transfer it to another pot (or other container). Add the second half of the soup to the blender, along with the remaining cashews, and blend till smooth. Add this batch of soup to the first, and stir. Season the soup to taste.
4) Transfer the soup to serving bowls. Top each with a small handful of sunchoke chips, and serve. Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, the soup will keep for up to five days.
Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Oyster Mushrooms & Sunchokes
(Adapted from Tasting Table)
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
For the Vegetables -
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and heads quartered
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
7 ounces oyster mushrooms, stems trimmed and mushrooms halved (about 2 cups)
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/4 pounds sunchokes (about 8), little nubs trimmed, halved lengthwise (or quartered if large)
For the Vinaigrette -
Zest and juice of 1 lemon (or 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest and 1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon orange juice)
1 tablespoon Just Mayo vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon So Delicious plain vegan Greek yogurt (or sour cream alternative)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
1/2 garlic clove, very finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup canola or grapeseed oil
1) Preheat the oven to 425F. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat until it is very hot and smoking, 3 - 4 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the Brussels sprouts and 1/2 teaspoon salt, reduce the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the Brussels sprouts to a rimmed baking sheet pan.
2) Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, the mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, then add the wine and cook until the wine reduces by half, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to the baking sheet with the Brussels sprouts.
3) Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the skillet along with the sunchokes, flat side down, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Turn off the heat and transfer the skillet to the oven until the sunchokes are caramelized and tender, about 20 minutes for smaller sunchokes and 25 minutes for larger ones.
4) While the sunchokes roast, make the vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, whisk together the Meyer lemon zest and juice, egg yolk, soy yogurt, dill, garlic, salt and pepper. While whisking slowly, drizzle in the canola oil until the vinaigrette is creamy.
5) Remove the skillet from the oven and use tongs to turn the sunchokes over. Return the Brussels sprouts and mushrooms to the skillet with the sunchokes and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Serve warm or at room temperature in the skillet or on a platter.