What’s for Dinner

This week in our veggie box, we got: kale, bok choy, celery, three gorgeous big heirloom tomatoes (our first real heirlooms of the summer, in October!), five strikingly pale white potatoes (wish I knew what variety they are), two leeks, a cauliflower, four plums, three big nectarines, six apples, and these funny things:


They look almost like ginger, but are clearly some kind of root vegetables: when I cut one open, it tasted like jicama. After a bit of research (“gnarly ginger jicama” was the Google search that worked) I pegged them as Jerusalem artichokes, or sunchokes: native to North America, and actually a species of sunflower. Intriguingly, the site I landed on explains:

Although not widely used (perhaps because of its awkward appearance or anti-social effects – see NUTRITION), they are an inexpensive and versatile food that can be used both raw and cooked and make a delicious soup.

“Anti-social effects”? Here’s another site that puts it more plainly:

It turns out that consuming large quantities of sunchokes can have very, very uncomfortable consequences. Let’s just say—oh, how to put this delicately?—that they caused my insides to react just like the Hindenburg. Which is to say, explosively. My guts were all tied up in knots for no less than 24 hours.

HMMM. Well, I guess I won’t be serving these at a dinner party anytime soon. I think I will try them, though, probably roasted simply just as the poor blogger above did: it seems that some people can handle them better than others, so we’ll just have a little bit apiece and see what happens.

Otherwise, I’m excited about the tomatoes. I think I’ll make a bowl of panzanella tonight, using some of the celery too, and maybe a plum crisp if I get all excited. Tomorrow we’ll have steaks and the roasted sunchokes, and Monday, baked penne with cauliflower and ham. Tuesday I’ll use the leeks in a soup with potatoes and kielbasa. The kale I’ll use in my standard bulgur salad lunch, and I think the bok choy will also make a lunch, stir-fried with garlic and stirred up with soba noodles. That actually takes care of the veggies, so I’m not sure what I’ll make the rest of the week: probably there will be some leftovers, and/or we might get some Chinese food delivered. We’re still trying to find where the good places to order from are around here…

4 Responses to “What’s for Dinner”

  • Jennifer Says:

    My favourite way of using jerusalem artichokes is here:

    I don’t use cream or pine nuts though.

    They taste a lot more like artichoke hearts after you cook them. I have no idea what jicama are but now I know they taste like raw sunchokes, whatever they are!

    I have never had the ‘antisocial effects’, maybe because my diet is so high in fibre my guts can handle everything short of a nuclear bomb by now, but my kids get terrible abdominal pains from them and a friend of mine (who similarly has no problem herself) had the same thing with her toddler.

    • shannon Says:

      Oh, thanks for the recipe! I love cooking with saffron; it always feels decadent.

      I just looked up jicama because I thought it might be an Asian thing (it shows up on Vietnamese sandwiches a lot) but it’s actually native to Mexico! Wikipedia does note that “Due to its growing popularity, cultivation of jícama has recently spread from Mexico to other parts of Central America, China and Southeast Asia where notable uses of raw jícama include popiah and salads such as yusheng and rojak. Jícama has become popular in Vietnamese food, where it is called cây củ đậu (in northern Vietnam) or củ sắn or sắn nước (in southern Vietnam).”

      I might hold off on giving the sunchokes to Robin.

  • Nanita Says:

    Sweetie, you’ve probably forgotten that we grew Jerusalem artichokes in our back yard in Ann Arbor. I planted them near the border with the neighbor who was a total stickler for orderly lawns and traditional gardens, because Jerusalem artichokes look like wild, crazy, weedy sunflowers. We only ate them a couple of times, and I don’t remember ill effects. I planted some horseradish nearby, just because it’s big and coarse-looking. He deserved it: he insisted the shared driveway was his alone because he owned his house and we were renting.

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