I’m gonna be honest with you. Before making this recipe, I didn’t really know what a Jerusalem artichoke was. I guess the name threw me off. I figured…Jerusalem…artichoke, must be a variety of artichokes native to Jerusalem, right? Not so much.
We spent way too long at the market looking for these things until my husband finally pulled out his smart phone and lead us to these gnarly little tubers nestled between the ginger root and tumeric. “Sunchoke” is what they were called and that name makes a lot more sense since these babies are a species of sunflower and native to North America. Go figure.
Turns out, Jerusalem artichokes or sunchokes or whatever you may call them, are very similar to potatoes; but with their own unique flavor. Their sturdy texture, makes them a perfect substitute for gratins. This dish is both rustic and hearty, but also on the lighter side as far as gratins go. Perfect as a main course for vegetarians and carnivores alike.
The original recipe called for nettle tops (what ARE these???), but spinach was all I had on hand. Any leafy greens would work with this recipe.
To making slicing easier, I chopped the small, knobby bits off the Jerusalem artichokes, making them round. Then peel and slice into 1/4 inch slices. Garlic and onions should also be sliced very thin.
Sure you can take the easy way out and do breadcrumbs, but I HIGHLY recommend taking day old bread (I used whole grain), and tearing it into small pieces. The texture can’t be beat! I also added a handful of rolled oats, chopped hazelnuts and shredded gruyere cheese; mixing with 2 tbsp melted butter.
Saute onion and garlic until soft, about 3 minutes.
Add the Jerusalem artichokes and fresh thyme and saute for a few more minutes. Pour in cream and vegetable stock (or water) and simmer for about 10 minutes; until liquid has reduced by half.
Remove from heat and add chopped spinach. Lightly toss the mixture.
Pour Jerusalem artichoke mixture into greased baking dish and level off. Cover the mixture with topping.
Bake at 375 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Gratins tend to bubble up, so I recommend putting the dish on top of a baking sheet to prevent any oven disasters. Serve warm.
Jerusalem Artichoke and Spinach Gratin
Serves 4 as a main course, 8 as a side dish
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter for topping
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
- 1 lb Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tsp kosher salt or more, to taste
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup vegetable stock or water
- 1/2 cup fresh spinach, chopped into large pieces
- 3 thick slices of stale bread, torn into pieces
- A handful of old fashioned rolled oats (optional)
- A small handful toasted hazelnuts or walnuts, chopped (optional)
- 1/3 cup grated gruyere cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a medium sized baking dish.
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil and 1 tbsp butter. Add garlic and onions and saute until soft and just starting to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Add artichoke, thyme, salt and pepper. Saute for another 2 minutes. Pour in cream and vegetable stock and bring mixture to a simmer. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes, or until liquid is reduced by half. Remove from heat and stir in spinach. Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish, spreading out the artichokes and leveling everything out with a spatula.
To prepare the topping, melt remaining 2 tbsp butter. Stir into a large bowl with bread pieces, nuts, oats and cheese. Evenly sprinkle the mixture over the artichokes in the baking dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until topping is toasted and bubbling. Serve warm.
Adapted from River Cottage Every Day