One discovery I’ve made in New Mexico is the Jerusalem Artichoke. My neighbor Norm asked me during our first summer in Taos if I’d like to have some of his vegetable plants for my garden. At that time of year, middle summer, the plants were towering with yellow flowers at the top. I didn’t know what part of the plant to cook. Norm pulled out of his pocket a gnarly root. “Here, cook this and tell me what you think,” he said, handing me dirt-covered root.
It’s also called sunroot, sunchoke or earth apple, native to Eastern North America. I’ve been growing it for the last 4 years and it does very well in the high desert. If you don’t pick the plant at the end of Fall, it hibernates and grows larger during the next summer.
The taste has a nut flavor as well as an artichoke taste. I thinly slice the root or grate it, depending on my breakfast dish. For slicing, I sauté it in olive oil –along with mushrooms, tomatoes and spring onions- for my Frittata. When grating, I put it into my casseroles like a Spanish or Italian Strata.
The only negative is that once the root is pulled out of the ground, it has to be kept in dry place, like a vegetable container, wrapped in a paper towel. If you don’t, the root becomes spongy and the taste turns acrid.