I love living in Portland– there’s a vibrant food culture, a progressive city government, and even a special Food Policy and Programs department. How cool is that? A few months back the director of said department asked me to teach cooking classes in order to help my fellow denizens reduce their carbon foot print by eating local foods. I was thrilled!
So, if you live in Portland, please check out the schedule for my (Nearly) Meatless Monday classes at the Fremont Whole Foods and sign up today! The first class, Global Gourmet February 8th includes: Indian Dal with Local Lamb, Pad Thai with Wild Shrimp/Tofu, Crisp Greek Phyllo Pie with Winter Greens, Moroccan Albacore Tuna en Papillote. $40 for dinner and a show! We’ll discuss smart choices when buying meat and seafood and how to cook with less meat and more flavor. Something we all need to think about. You can register by clicking here.
Now, onto my most recent vegetable crush: Jerusalem artichokes, also called sunchokes. These crisp little tubers are native to North America, not the Middle East (the Jerusalem bit comes from the English mispronunciation of “girasole,” the Italian term for the tuber). To make the name even more mysterious, they aren’t closely related to artichokes. They do, however, have a crisp, juicy flesh that transforms into a buttery, potato-like consistency that tastes a bit like an artichoke when cooked.
What ever you call them, I am smitten. It seems that whatever I do with them, they show me another side of their adaptable nature. Slice them on a mandolin and bake with potatoes, cheese, and cream and I’ve got a lovely gratin with a complex, buttery flavor. Peel, and finely dice them, and combine them with bell peppers, onions, and pickling spices and I’m rewarded with my Polish grandmother’s lovely piccalilli-style relish. Boil them in a soup and puree and they are more slick than velvet. Shave them and eat them raw in a salad, as with the recipe here inspired by a salad I recently enjoyed at Olympic Provisions, and you have a virtuous mid-winter salad that is divine. The possibilities are endless with my crush.
If you would like to learn more about outside-the-box seasonal vegetables and are dieing for creative recipes that use all the bounty you buy at your local farmer’s market, may I suggest my book The Farm to Table Cookbook: The Art of Eating Locally? It just came out in paperback, and to celebrate I am giving away a signed copy to the reader who leaves me the best comment to this question:
What is your vegetable crush? Be descriptive.
I will announce the winner next post, February 15th. Good luck!
Shaved Jerusalem Artichoke and Brussels Sprout Leaf Salad
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons fancy extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 generous pinch sea salt
3 ounces castelvetrano olives
6 ounces Brussels sprouts
4 ounces Jerusalem artichokes
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
4 anchovies, chopped (optional)
Place the lemon juice in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil. Add the lemon pepper and salt and whisk to combine.
Using the flat side of a chef’s knife, push on each olive until the pit comes free from the olive flesh and the pit can be removed. Cut the pitted olives into slivers and add to the bowl with the lemon juice mixture. Cut the base off of one Brussels sprout. Carefully pull off the outer leaves, continuing to trim the base to release the leaves. Stop when you get to the yellow inner leaves that are tightly packed together, reserve this part of the sprout for another use. Repeat with remaining Brussels sprouts and add the leaves to the bowl with dressing.
Peel the Jerusalem artichokes and thinly slice or shave on a mandoline slicer. Add them to the bowl. Using a sharp vegetable peeler, shave the Parmesan cheese into thin shards until you have about 1/4 cup, loosely packed. Add cheese to the salad. Toss to combine and serve. For meat eaters, add the anchovies.