Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ugly Ducklings

I'm reading Elizabeth Berg's newest book, The Last Time I Saw You, a novel about a group of people who get together for their 40 year high school reunion. It's very cute and entertaining to think that people still live the roles that they played in high school.
Though the novel enters into the minds of several characters ( each chapter focuses on a different one) I find myself rooting for Mary Alice the "ugly duckling". I like her because she doesn't grow up to be a swan like in the fairy tale, but does gain a slew of confidence in the 40 years since graduating high school, and goes to the reunion with her head held high.
Okay, so why am I telling you this? Because when I get into a book, I really place myself in it. I've been that way since the third grade, when my teacher, Mrs. Compton, kindled a love of reading in me ( and probably all of her students). I am usually never without a book in hand (or at least a magazine). But this book, and the concept of ugly ducklings does actually have something to do with the nubby little things pictured above.
I've never met a vegetable I didn't like. But I have met quite a few that I am scared of, mostly because I have no clue what to do with them. These are usually of the neutral, gnarled variety that I speed by on my way to the tomatoes in the grocery store. You know the ones. You probably walk by them too.
So when my friend Erica came into work the other day with Jerusalem Artichokes ( also known as sunchokes) I was intrigued. I'd heard of them before, maybe even seen them on an episode of Chopped but I'd never tasted them.

Erica, a bubbly vegetarian with a great big heart, eagerly offered me a piece, and with one taste I was hooked. The flavor was like a combination of potatoes and artichokes, only with a rich nuttiness. She sauteed hers in butter and topped them with toasted sunflower seeds which added to their inherent smokiness.
Erica told me they looked like ginger roots, so the next day in the market, I looked for them. And there they were, the ugly ducklings of the isle, surrounded by popular green leafy vegetables, and plump ripe tomatoes. But I knew better they to bypass these babies.
Today I did a quick Google search for recipes and surprisingly, I hardly found any. I improvised and came up with the recipe you'll find below. Give them a try, and if you have a recipe for them, please pass it along. These might be my new addiction!

Oh, two more things:
1) Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there! You are so special! I know without my mom, I would not be the person I am today. And now, I have a wonderful mother-in-law, who is like a second mother to me. I'm so lucky to have them both in my life. I hope to be a mother just like them some day. There they are- aren't they cute??

2) Tomorrow is Gian Luca and my First Wedding Anniversary!! I am so lucky and blessed to be married to him!

Ok, now for the recipe:

Jerusalem Artichokes

Serves 4

8 medium Jerusalem Artichokes ( sliced into 1/8" pieces)
1/2 medium onion ( chopped)
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
salt and pepper to taste

1) Blanch Jerusalem Artichokes in boiling salted water until firm but tender ( about 5 minutes). Drain and set aside.
2) In a medium skillet, heat olive oil. Add onions and Jerusalem Artichokes, salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat and allow to simmer until the onions caramelize and the artichokes brown a bit ( about 3-5 minutes)
3) Add the butter and cook for an additional 2 minutes.



  1. What cute moms!

    Happy 1st Anniversary! I love the wedding photo - you look so happy! Love the robot also :)

    I have never had Jerusalem Artichokes but I would love to give them a try.

  2. Thanks Jen! Happy Mother's Day!

  3. We just love chokes.. try grating another odd veggie.. kohlrabi into your mix....yumma! Congrat's on your first anniversary. You make a very handsome couple!

  4. The artichokes sound amazing. Happy 1st anniversary.