Sautéed Mushrooms and Jerusalem Artichokes with Olive Oil and Garlic

Funghi e Topinambur Trifolati

It puzzles and saddens me to witness the obscurity to which Jerusalem artichoke, one of the finest of tubers, has been relegated. In America it is used only raw, for salads; and in Italy, except for a few districts in the northwest, it is neither known nor heard of, despite the fact that the plant it is the root of, a variety of sunflower, is widely grown. But it is cultivated for its oil-bearing seeds and the delicious root is discarded.

Near my hometown, there are acres and acres of those sunflowers, whose sight once led to an amusing incident. As we passed them I pointed them out to the driver who had picked me up in Venice to take me to my mother. “Guarda—look!” I said. “Quanti topinambur—how many topinambur!” Topinambur is the Italian for Jerusalem artichoke, but topi alone means mice, and that was the only part of the word the man heard. “Mice?” he asked, while braking abruptly. “Where?”

In the recipe below the artichokes and mushrooms are trifolati; this means that for cooking they are sliced wafer-thin like truffles, which are sometimes called trifola. The cooking procedure could not be much simpler. Olive oil is heated up with garlic and parsley, and the sliced artichokes and mushrooms are cooked in that scented oil. The mushrooms shed liquid that helps to cook the firmer artichoke, but at the end the only liquid left is the fragrant oil. The Jerusalem artichoke, which is reticently sweet, coaxes the cultivated mushrooms, by contrast, to express their latent flavor of the woods. It tastes just wonderful, take my word.

Read more

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Jerusalem artichokes
  • 1 pound fresh, firm cultivated mushrooms
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt
  • Black pepper ground fresh

Method

  1. Skin the Jerusalem artichokes using a small paring knife or a swivel-bladed peeler, wash them in cold water, then slice them into the thinnest possible disks. You can use the fine slicing disk, not the blade, of a food processor or, if you have one, a mandoline, being careful to grasp the tuber with a pusher rather than with your fingers, or you will end up slicing those too.
  2. Wash the mushrooms rapidly under running water. Pat thoroughly dry with kitchen towels, then cut them lengthwise, from cap to bottom of the stem, into the thinnest slices you can.
  3. Choose a sauté pan or skillet that can later accommodate all the mushrooms and artichokes. Put in the oil and garlic, turn on the heat to medium high, and cook the garlic, stirring frequently, until it becomes colored gold. Add the parsley, stir quickly two or three times, then put in both the artichokes and mushrooms. Turn them over a few times to coat them well, add salt and generous grindings of pepper, turn the heat down to low, and cover the pan.
  4. The mushrooms will shed a fair quantity of liquid. Cook, turning the pans contents over from time to time, until the mushroom water has completely evaporated and the artichokes feel tender when poked with a fork. If, once the artichokes are done, there is still liquid left in the pan, uncover it, raise the heat, and boil all the liquid away.

Loading
Loading
Loading