The Sunchoke and Tahina Omelet – #19

Perhaps you would more likely recognize the name Jerusalem Artichoke Omelet? We could also call it the Sunroot Omelet. These are just three different names for the same veggie, which like me, is a native of North America. It was “discovered” by French explorers on Cape Cod in 1605, where the Native Americans were cultivating it. They brought it back to Europe, where the Italians called it “girasole,” Italian for sunflower, which it resembles and to which it is related. They are both of the daisy family. The name seems to have morphed from the Italian Girasole into Jerusalem Artichoke. Indeed, it is not in any way related to the capital of my adopted country, Jerusalem, Israel. Neither is it related to the artichoke, so loved by gourmet cooks for its heart. This one is loved by gourmet cooks for its root. It is a tuber and now is the time to harvest it, so dig in the ground of our garden, I did and came up with the dirty chokes.

They are like potatoes, another tuber, but have a sweeter and nuttier flavor similar to chestnuts. But watch out! It is rich in inulin, a carbohydrate linked with good intestinal health due to its probiotic (bacteria promoting) properties. Apparently, this chemical cannot be broken down by the human digestive system which is why an English planter commented in 1621 that “they stir and cause a filthy loathsome stinking wind within the body, thereby causing the belly to be pained and tormented” and he thought that they were “more fit for swine than men.” Lest I scare you away from trying it, I and Nurit have not had any such reactions. We love them, eat them this time of year, and suffer no wind from within. They do have to be scrubbed clean as any bit of dirt, sand, or grit left behind will wreak havoc when you chew them. This is why an essential kitchen implement is the scrub brush with stiff bristles.

The instructions are simple and the same as every omelet other than the need to do a quick stir-fry of the thinly sliced sunchoke tubers after adding to the omelet.

Set them aside, and add on one half after the egg have set in the pan. Then add the tahini, or as we call it, tahina. This sunchoke gives the omelet a crunchy nuttiness and the tahini gives it a soft nuttiness. Maybe I should have called this The Nutty Nutty Omelet – 18.

Incidentally, you can buy them in the grocery store, eat some and put some in the ground. Then you will be able to harvest the tubers of the sunchoke after the leaves fall and the stalks dry up year after year. Just don’t dig them all up to eat and put some of them back into the soil and feed your sunchoke patch some finished compost at harvest time. You will also enjoy the bright flowers every summer also.

Bon Apetit.


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