I overheard a woman in the school yard yesterday saying how she was so bored with winter that she couldn't even find anything she wanted to eat. It's easy to feel that sense of malaise in March, when winter feels interminable. There may be a few more solid weeks of cold, so I'm trying to use this time to eat some really delicious warming foods. Before long we will all be basking in the possibilities of really fresh salads and a new crop of Spring fruits and vegetables.
Sunroot, Jerusalem Artichoke, aka sunchoke. It's not an artichoke, but it kind of tastes like one. It's worth seeking it out and making this gratin before this winter passes us by, which surely it will.
As tubers go, this one is pretty special, coming from a sunflower. Knobby like ginger, so it takes some persistence to peel. But a little stick-to-itiveness sometimes makes a dish even more rewarding.
Baked Jerusalem Artichokes, Bread Crumbs, Thyme and Lemon
From Jamie Oliver
This would be a great accompaniment to any roast meat or broiled fish. Don't slice the artichokes too thick or you will wind up baking the dish a lot longer than 30 minutes.
1 ⅓ cup heavy cream
juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 good handful of fresh thyme, leaves picked from stems and chopped
3 handfuls of grated Parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 ¼ lbs Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and sliced as thick as a pencil
2 good handfuls of fresh bread crumbs (I made mine in a food processor using rosemary sourdough bread)
Preheat your oven to 425 F. In a bowl, mix your cream, lemon juice, garlic, half the thyme and most of the Parmesan and season well to taste. Throw in the sliced Jerusalem artichokes. Mix well and place everything in an ovenproof baking dish.
Mix the breadcrumbs with the rest of the thyme and Parmesan and some salt and a little olive oil. Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes, until the artichokes are tender and the bread crumbs are golden.