Monday, September 26, 2011

Jerusalem Artichokes: An American Native

Jerusalem Artichokes, (Helianthus tuberosus) a.k.a. Sunchokes, are actually in the sunflower family and native to North America. They aren't related to artichokes and didn't originate in Jerusalem, but their edible tubers do have a wonderful artichoke-like flavor.

Sunchoke tubers with globe artichokes: they aren't related!

They are very easy to grow and are crispy when raw in salads, and tasty cooked and pureed into a soup, mashed, or sauteed. If you like the taste, they are a great addition to your edible landscape. And as a bonus, Jerusalem Artichokes have pretty clusters of sunflowers and make lots of tubers to harvest in the fall.

 Sauteed Sunchokes: Simple and Delicious
We  recently dug up a couple of the tubers and tried them sauteed in olive oil with chopped garlic and loved the creamy texture and earthy flavor:

Scrub the soil off of the tubers, if you have trouble cleaning between the bumpy parts just break them up. You can peel some of the thin skin off but don't worry about getting it all. Slice the tubers about 1/4 inch thick. Warm up some olive oil in a skillet. Add the Sunchoke slices and cook on medium heat so that they don't burn- stir occasionally; it will take 5-10 minutes. Some chopped garlic is nice; add it at the same time as the Sunchokes and cook together. If the garlic begins to get too brown, remove it and add it back when the Sunchokes are done, or discard (the garlic will still add flavor to the oil).

Serve warm with some chopped parsley and a sprinkle of kosher salt, if you have some. This makes a great accompaniment to other cooked vegetables, and I can imagine adding it to pasta with sauteed mushrooms. Now we're exited about trying out more recipes this fall and winter.

Plant the tubers in full sun in the Spring for August flowers and fall harvest

Growing Sunchokes
We planted a couple of the tubers last Spring on the side of our house where we had sheet composted to build up the soil over the winter. Sunchokes are a fall season vegetable so we had bought some at a local Whole Foods Market (check your farmer's market too) and kept them in a pot with potting soil over the winter. When Spring came I began watering the pot until the plants emerged, then planted them into the ground about an inch deep in a sunny spot.

A few tubers will divide into lots of edible tubers in one season
Ours grew a surprising 12 feet high and flowered in August.  They are very prolific so be careful where you plant them, although they're easy to dig up, and you'll enjoy having a good supply to eat!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Taking a Walk for Global Hunger Relief on 9/11

Dear Readers,
Urban Artichoke will be joining the SF Bay Area community of Buddhists on a walk to raise money to feed the hungry on Sunday, the anniversary of 9/11.

This charity event is organized by Buddhist Global Relief, an organization founded by Bhikkhu Bodhi. I first became inspired by Bhikkhu Bodhi, after listening to an  audio recording of a talk he gave at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City on  living with chronic illness and pain. His personal path with suffering led him into action to work to relieve the suffering of others.

To sponsor me on the walk please use the "firstgiving" icon on the left of this page; my personal goal is $1000; I've donated the first $100...

Here is an excerpt from the Buddhist Global Relief web site:

"In 2007 the American Buddhist scholar-monk, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, was invited to write an editorial essay for the Buddhist magazine Buddhadharma. In his essay, he called attention to the narrowly inward focus of American Buddhism, which has been pursued to the neglect of the active dimension of Buddhist compassion expressed through programs of social engagement. Several of Ven. Bodhi’s students who read the essay felt a desire to follow up on his suggestions. After a few rounds of discussions, they resolved to form a Buddhist relief organization dedicated to alleviating the suffering of the poor and disadvantaged in the developing world..."read more

Thank you for reading Urban Artichoke and supporting efforts to relieve the suffering of the hungry and those in need.