The sun having been shining these last few days, I was feeling like eating rather spring recipes, like greens and salads. But I don’t forget it’s still winter, which allows us only to get some vegetables. Making this salad however taught me it is absolutely possible to eat light, refreshing yet tasty meals even during this season.
Jerusalem artichoke is a versatile ingredient, which has grown popular here last years, as well as other tubers and « forgotten » vegetables. If you want to know more about it, you should read this great post of my blogging friend Darya from « Tortore ». Though I only recently started to eat and cook it, it’s for me, being a huge fan of artichoke, as I had always known its mild yet characteristic taste.
I confess, the previous recipes I published are not part of my everyday cooking, requiring time, unusual cooking techniques or specific ingredients. This one is on the contrary a recipe I created with ingredients I had on hand, just getting me buying fresh tubers and some fresh herb ; it should be ready within an hour or so, but the actual preparation time doesn’t exceed 15 minutes as no cooking is involved. Plus, it is vegetarian, what is quite scarce here and I hope some of you might enjoy.
The association of Jerusalem artichoke, hazelnuts and chervil had been inspired to me by recipes of two blogging friends of mine. I already mentioned « Tortore »‘s Jerusalem artichoke cream soup, which inspired me the nutty dimension of the salad : hazelnut slivers for the crunch, hazelnut oil to make the tubers taste milder. Having tried a Chinese recipe of pickled Jerusalem artichoke with black rice vinegar and Szechuan pepper on the blog « Recettes d’une Chinoise » (if you understand a little French, you really should take a look at it !), I loved the idea of eating it almost raw. Anyway, we used to do it with artichoke at home when I was younger, so it seemed quite natural to me ; plus, Jerusalem artichoke doesn’t bring along an acrid feeling in mouth as regular artichoke does. To this recipe, I borrowed the ideas of cutting the tubers thinly and using salt then vinegar to pickle it a little ; however, I choose balsamic vinegar instead of rice wine vinegar since this sweeter vinegar matches better with hazelnut oil. A walk on the market had me decided to add some of the bright green stalks of chervil standing out of the stalls, and it worked wonderfully, adding fresh, herbal flavor to the whole. I think this salad would even please those who don’t like much Jerusalem artichoke, as the hazelnut oil provides a right balance between the ingredients.
Ingredients (serves 4 as a starter, 2 as a side dish) :
- 2 big pcs Jerusalem artichoke, 200g each (with outgrowths), or 300g smoother small Jerusalem artichoke pcs (as I do not peel them, I used bigger sized Jerusalem artichokes that involve much flesh and less skin, but the smallest ones are fine if the only available, and if peeled)
- a small handful shelled hazelnuts, about 25g
- 10 stalks chervil
- 2 tbsp hazelnut oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- a few drops of « Maggi® » seasoning sauce, to taste (makes for a « meatier » vinaigrette) – or substitute 1 tsp soy sauce
- ground white pepper, to taste
Remove the outgrowths of Jerusalem artichokes (put them aside for another recipe, like those I was speaking about earlier) and scrub them thoroughly under running water. I do not peel them but if any doubt remains concerning their quality, you’d rather do it.
Slice the remaining biggest part of Jerusalem artichokes very thinly (2-3mm thick slices). Place a few slices on top of each other and julienne them by cutting them into 1-2 mm wide matchsticks. You might want to do it with a mandoline, but do not grate the Jerusalem artichoke : you don’t want it to turn soggy in the salad, but to retain some crunch. Anyway, it isn’t that long to cut it this way !
Place the julienned artichoke in a colander, mix in the salt as evenly as possible, then rest at room temperature at least half an hour to allow the artichoke to lose some of its moisture and then turn softer.
Meanwhile, wash and pat dry the chervil. Discard the stems and chop roughly the leaves. Note : if you do not know what to do with a whole bunch of chervil, stay tuned ! Chop roughly the hazelnuts, by preference with a sharp knife, but you can use an electric chopper if you’re in a hurry or in a lazy day !
Once the artichoke julienne is softened, rinse it twice under running water, tossing to make sure to get rid of all salt. Drain well, then air dry a little.
Meanwhile, prepare the vinaigrette by whisking together oil, vinegar and Maggi seasoning to get a rich brown, smooth vinaigrette. Season it with white pepper. Combine all ingredients of the salad, pour the vinaigrette over them, and mix thoroughly.
At this stage, you have the choice between serving the salad straight away, or leaving it aside in the fridge a little : if so, the Jerusalem artichoke will turn a bit softer (and browner than on the photos), so adjust the resting time to your liking (1/2 to 1 hour is fine).
Serve as a starter or a side dish with seafood, for instance. Bon appétit !