Pearled barley and freekeh with roasted Jerusalem artichokes and ricotta
Jerusalem artichokes are certainly not the most glamorous of vegetables. This tuber sits way down the pecking order, along with the turnip, mostly as a result of a particular side effect from its consumption.
There is absolutely no denying Jerusalem artichokes can cause gas. Technically it’s the inulin in the tuber that causes the problem, because when it’s consumed in large quantities it wreaks havoc on our digestive system. I have heard hundreds of tricks to deal with the issue and have learnt that if you allow the sunflower plant that Jerusalem artichokes grow from to die back – in the same way you would a potato plant before harvesting – most of the inulin is rendered harmless. So either grow your own or check the harvesting habits of the person you buy them from. Either way the pursuit is worthwhile.
Just to hedge all bets, another way to nullify negative effects is to boil the artichokes in heavily acidulated water. This is a final line of defence and has little negative effect on the flavour of the tuber – especially when they are well roasted after the initial boiling.
This dish is heavily reliant on the crushed edges of the artichoke becoming caramelised, which really lifts the earthy flavour. So feel free to take the roasting as far as you feel comfortable. This can become a standalone side dish finished with the olive oil and salted ricotta.
Serves 2 as a meal with salad or greens
- 300g Jerusalem artichokes
- 3 lemons
- salt and pepper
- 120g butter
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- ½ bunch thyme
- 200g pearled barley
- 100g cracked freekeh
- 3 shallots
- 50ml grapeseed oil
- 200ml white wine
- 800ml chicken/vegetable stock
- 100ml buttermilk
- 1 bunch chives
- lemon juice to taste
- 100ml olive oil
- 80g salted ricotta
- Peel the Jerusalem artichokes and place them in a pot with three litres of cold water and the three lemons cut in half. Bring to the boil and let simmer for about 10 minutes or until the tubers soften. Add salt to the water and then set the pot aside and allow the artichokes to cool in the seasoned water.
- Preheat your oven to 190ºC.
- Once the artichokes have cooled, remove them with a slotted spoon. Place them on a roasting tray and crush lightly with the back of a spoon. Cut the butter into small dice and scatter over the artichokes with the garlic. Roast for 30 minutes, adding the thyme for the last two minutes of the cooking process. Season and let the artichokes cool on the tray.
- Place the pearled barley into the water that was used to cook the artichokes and bring to the boil before reducing to a simmer. Cook the barley for 15-20 minutes until it has softened but retained its structure (keeping in mind that it will get further cooking) before removing with a slotted spoon and letting it cool on a tray. Repeat this process for the freekeh.
- Dice the shallots and sweat them off in the grapeseed oil until translucent, add the grains and give them a light toast in the pot for about three minutes before deglazing with the wine. Reduce the wine to almost nothing before adding half of the stock.
- Bring the grains to a gentle simmer and cook until the liquid has been mostly absorbed. Add the Jerusalem artichokes at this point then the rest of the stock and simmer for a further three to four minutes. Finish with the buttermilk and stir vigorously until the grains cream up and the liquid is mostly absorbed. (The consistency should allow the grains to fall free and flat on a plate when you put a spoonful down.)
- Cut the chives finely then add to the pot and season to taste with salt and pepper and more lemon juice if required.
- Plate onto warm plates and finish with the olive oil and a heavy dose of the salted ricotta grated with a microplane.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on August 31, 2019 as "Jazzing up the tuber".
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