Double “Artichoke” Gratin
By Cheryl Forberg, RD
The Jerusalem artichoke (also called sunchoke or sunroot) is a type of sunflower which is considered a root vegetable. It is not actually an artichoke at all, but is so named because it’s flavor is somewhat similar to Globe artichokes. The sunchokes’ tubers are elongated and uneven resembling gingerroot with a crisp texture when raw. Once cut, it oxidizes (browns) quickly.
Initially a food source for Native Americans, sunchokes have had a resurgence in popularity in the U.S. in the last 25 years. Though predominantly composed of carbohydrates (with little protein and no fat), the sunchoke is actually low in starch, but high in a compound called inulin which is a form of fructose and responsible for the chokes’ sweet flavor. Inulin also helps to promote blood sugar control.
The tasty tubers are sometimes used as a substitute for potatoes and are delicious when simply roasted with oil, salt and pepper. They can also be consumed raw in a salad, in which case they’re probably better off peeled. That’s because much of the inulin they contain is found in the skin and it cannot be broken down by the human digestive system. Instead, it’s broken down by bacteria in the colon. This can cause flatulence, so if you haven’t tried them before, you might want to have a small serving the first time.
My dish is inspired by a Martha Stewart gratin recipe. Martha used potatoes with her sunchokes, but I chose to use artichoke hearts instead. Feel free to experiment with different kinds of cheese. Smoked gouda would be very good.
1 1-pound package Melissa’s Jerusalem artichokes, rinsed, thinly sliced and covered with cold water
1 6.5-ounce package Melissa’s steamed artichoke hearts, quartered lengthwise
1 6.5-ounce package Melissa’s steamed chestnuts, thinly sliced
5 ounces peeled shallots (about 2 large) thinly sliced in julienne
3 cups 1 % milk
½ cup low fat sour cream
½ cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Melissa’s MyGrinders Herb de Provence
½ teaspoon ground pepper
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Drain the sunchokes and transfer to a 2-quart saucepan. Add milk just to cover; it should be about 3 cups.
Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to simmer. Stir occasionally so the milk doesn’t burn. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, drain artichokes, reserving the milk.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the drained sunchokes with sliced artichoke hearts, chestnuts and shallots. Add sour cream, cheese and seasonings; stir well.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Transfer vegetable mixture to a shallow 2-quart baking dish, patting down veggies to remove any large air pockets.
Pour about 1 cup of the remaining milk over the vegetables until it just reaches the top of the vegetables. Add more milk if needed. (Discard any extra milk).
Cover baking pan with foil and bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and increase heat to 450 degrees.
Remove foil from baking dish and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown, about 5 - 10 minutes longer. Serve hot, garnished with chopped Italian parsley.
Nutritional Analysis for one serving
Fat 6 g
Sat Fat 3 g
Cholesterol 20 mg
Sodium 450 mg
Carb 26 g
Fiber 3 g
Sugars 10 g
Protein 8 g
Vit A 8 % RDA
Vit C 6 % RDA
Calcium 20 % RDA
Iron 10 % RDA