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Edible Jerusalem Artichokes…not a contradiction in terms after all

May 5, 2012

There are many reasons for supporting your local veg shop and one of them is that occasionally, as a valued customer of course, you get a freebie. Today I went in to Annie’s and picked up a carrier bag full of purple sprouting broccoli and some Jerusalem artichokes for nothing. OK, so some of the broccoli was a little past its best (though that didn’t stop Lisa from eating a bit raw) and some of the artichokes were a bit soft, but it was a free gift. And we haven’t had a glut of anything for a while and this amount of eat-me-instantly-or-i’ll-go-0ff broccoli constitutes a real challenge. I like a challenge.

Obviously the first thing to do was to select the flowering sprigs of sprouting broccoli and put them in a vase. With the table decoration sorted, the next thing was to start the food preparation.

I picked out the ropey broccoli bits and gave them to the rabbit (she wasn’t impressed) and then along came Grannie and picked out some good bits for herself – that Grannie!

I washed and chopped half of the remaining bundle (not sure yet what I’ll do with the other half, but it’s in the fridge) and put it in a pan with about half a cupful of water to simmer slowly. In a separate pan I cooked a chopped red pepper and chopped red onion in some olive oil until soft and set aside to cool a bit. I made some paprika and mixed herb pastry (add a heaped teaspoon of each to 8oz plain flour and 4oz butter and rub together then add water to bind) and rolled it out and put it on an oiled baking sheet. I didn’t leave it to rest, but it worked OK. When the broccoli was cooked and cooled I spread it over the pastry base and then added the peppers. Finally I added some white stilton cheese – though anything crumbly will do –  crimped the edges and put it in a hot oven for about 45 minutes.

Then I had to sort the Jerusalem artichokes. I hadn’t tried one since I was a kid and I remember not liking them much, but hey tastes change don’t they? No. They don’t. Not that much.

I tasted a bit raw and it had that celeriac/turnip/parsnip quality that I don’t like. I think they probably all go well with meat.

So my mission had to be to disguise it. I peeled and chopped the artichokes and cooked them in some oil with a few mustard seeds until they started to brown. Then I added some salt, pepper, and a tin of chopped tomatoes and bunged the lot in the oven. It was OK. Rella, the beloved and Grannie liked it. Arlo didn’t.

But the real star of the meal was the one Jerusalem artichoke that I sliced thinly and added to the grated carrot and mushroom stir fry we had with noodles. It retained its bite and was delicious. Very like a water chestnut. So that’s what to do with Jerusalem artichokes. (Actually, the real star of the meal was the purple sprouting broccoli pie with a tomato sauce drizzled on top – I was just relieved the artichokes were edible.)

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