I looked in my produce basket I got this month and thought, "yay! Ginger root." Alas, they weren't. Instead I found out they were Jerusalem Artichokes. A tuber/root, like a potato, but supposedly better for you?
What's great about them is that they store their carbohydrates in a form of inulin, a starch that is not utilized by the body for energy, unlike sugar. They are recommended as a potato substitute for diabetics, since they are filling but not absorbed by the body, and because they also show indications of assisting in blood sugar control. Jerusalem artichoke flour is also recommended for those who are allergic to wheat and other grains. (from about.com)
They are actually like a weed, and the flowers that grow from them look like miniature sunflowers. Interesting, huh? And they grow year round, but especially between September to April.
- - 114 calories, 0 grams of fat, 6mg of sodium and 14 grams of sugar in 1 cup of fresh, sliced sunchokes.
- - high in iron, calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin C and phosphorous.
How to Eat
The peel is fine to eat, like a potato, but scrub it well with a brush. It's hard to peel and some nutrients are in the peel anyway. If you're going to boil them, they may quickly turn to mush, so watch carefully because they cook faster than potatoes. Steaming is best, but you can cook with them all the same ways as potatoes. IF you slice it thinly, you can just throw the raw slices in a salad. (which you can do with zucchini and yellow squash too!)
FYI though...they supposedly can cause flatulence, so beware. :)
(but that's what people say about cauliflower and broccoli and such....so you'll just have to try and see)
I tried making a scalloped "potato" recipe using these instead, but I burnt it, so I couldn't tell you if it was good or not. Try these chokes in a recipe and let me know how your experiment goes.