Being a notor… ah… well-known regular at your favorite farmer’s market stalls really has it’s perks. Sometimes, the same perks – in the sense of wrong place, wrong time – can put you between a rock and a hard place. When you realize you’re stuck however, the best escape, at least in a food-related thought-spiral kind of scenario, is down. Confused yet? Ok, here’s what happened.
Last Saturday, on our usual market trip, our favorite greens grocer topped off our bag of veggies with a wink, a “tell me what you’ve done with these next time” and what felt like a ton of jerusalem artichokes. Although we had other plans for the weekend’s dinners, a bunch of rather ponzy recipes involving the yummy bulbs popped into my head and scrambled up not only the meals we had lined up but each other as well while whirring through my head like lottery balls on a sugar rush. In the end I couldn’t remember what I wanted to cook up in the first place, at least not without hubby’s exasperated assistance, nor could I concentrate on – let alone pick – any of the new additions to my headspace. When I noticed a serious headache creeping up on me, I decided to shake off these undesired side-effects of the vendor’s generous gift, ditched any and all attempts to think about something fancy and went the other way – with one of our favorite winter salads. Simple, easy and quick to make and a serious winner in the health department – one hell of a yumtastic “downgrade” for a cold and nasty (Monday) January evening, no~? 2 delicious heaps of salad, coming right up~
The Jerusalem Artichoke Salad
200g Lamb’s Lettuce
200g Braeburn, Fuji or Topaz Apples, cored and finely julienned or diced – basically pick you fav kind of apple, just make sure it’s a firm one on the juicy and tart side of all things apple. Toss the prepped bits with a bit of lemon juice or salt to keep them from browning.
200g Precooked Beetroot, finely julienned or diced
1 Small Red Onion, very finely sliced
200g Jerusalem Artichokes, washed, trimmed, peeled and sliced into thin disks
1 Splash of Lemon Juice – pour this into a bowl of water before adding the sliced artichokes to it to keep them from browning
1 Tbsp of Vegetable Oil
1 Generous Pinch of Salt
1 Generous Pinch of Hot Chilli Flakes
2 Tbsp Runny Honey
2 Tbsp White Balsamic Vinegar or Cider Vinegar
1 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil
2 Large Free-Range Eggs – To dot the I on a dish with a sunny-side-up, use the freshest, highest-quality egg you can get your hands on. Yum~!
Herbed Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
1 Tsp of Butter for the Eggs – you could go with oil or whatever’s left in the pan from frying up the artichokes, but a hint of butter makes them shine even more.
2 Tbsp Toasted Seed Mix – I usually go with an even blend of sunflower- and pumpkin seeds, puffed soy beans, pine nuts and the really broken-down bits on the bottom of my cashew-storage-jar, but there are quite a number of delicious ready-made organic “Salad Seed” Blends out there to play around with.
1) Set a wide, heavy-based pan onto medium-high heat, pop on the lid and allow it to heat up for 4-5 mins.
2) Add the grapeseed oil, vinegar, 1 tbsp of the honey and a very generous pinch each of herbed sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to a small bowl and whisk the lot until the honey has dissolved.
3) Dump the jerusalem artichoke slices into a colander and give them a hearty shake to remove every bit of lemony water clinging to them.
4) Spread out the slices on a double-layer of paper towels and pat them as dry as humanly possible – this little extra effort will help the ‘chokes to develop a nice and yummy crisp before hitting the “overcooked” state~
5) Brush the pan with the vegetable oil and sprinkle the surface with a generous pinch of salt before popping in the artichoke slices. In case your slices don’t fit in in one layer, do this in batches to make sure they cook evenly and, of course, to get the extra crisp going~
6) Drizzle the slices with a bit of honey once they’re inside the pan – by now you’ll know how many batches of roots-to-be-fried you’re looking at, so mentally divide the remaining tablespoon of honey waiting to be used into portions accordingly.
7) Now, the time the artichokes need to cook wildly depends on how fresh they were to begin with and how thin you’ve managed to slice the raw bulbs. In my experience, slices of 2-3mm thickness need about 4-6 mins to turn out tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, but in case this is your first rodeo with jerusalem artichokes cooked up fried-potato-style, have a test-bite every couple of minutes to make sure they don’t burn on the outside while remaining wet-woody on the inside or turn to mush while you’re waiting for the crisp to pop up.
8) Flip them over for another minute in the heat once the bottom has a beautiful golden crust on it and dust the lot with another pinch of salt and the chilli flakes.
9) Line a large plate or tray with paper towels to take care of any excess fat and transfer the artichoke slices to it once they’re done. If you’re working your way through several batches, cover the tray with aluminum foil in the meantime to keep the waiting bits warm.
10) While the roots are finishing up, divide the apple- and beet sticks or cubes onto two plates and scatter the onion bits on top.
11) Once all of the artichokes are taken care of, brush your pan with the butter and crack in the eggs. If you want to keep the eggwhites in check for a prettier visual, place dessert rings or a pair of funky fried-egg shape doohickeys – should you have such a toy flying around in your kitchen – in the pan and crack the eggs into those instead.
12) Sprinkle them with some herbed salt and a crack of pepper. Fry the eggs up the way you like them – my ideal sunny-side-up has a crispy golden rim, a firm white and a rather runny yolk, but I know, preferences do vary a lot on the egg-issue~
13) As soon as the eggs are nearing your definition of eggy perfection, drizzle the salad heaps with the dressing, arrange the jerusalem artichokes on top and dot the servings with the toasted seeds.
14) Pick a pretty spot to showcase the fried eggs and pop them onto the leafy beds just before serving and dig in immediately~