I was introduced to Jerusalem artichokes by my first love, at university five years ago. I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t come across them before that Saturday trip to an Oxfordshire farmers’ market, but we bought some and I seem to remember he made a gratin out of them – an outcome considerably better than our own. Anyway, I got some from Tesco this week. Was feeling a bit overdosed on creaminess, so didn’t fancy gratinating (or souping, which seems to be every chef’s default use for them) but darling Nigel came to the rescue with a recipe for a warm salad with bacon and a lemon/mustard dressing. It called for walnut oil, which I didn’t have, so I added toasted hazelnuts instead, which added the nutty depth plus some crunch too. It was SCRUMPTIOUS, and I have decided to make it the starter for the birthday meal I am hosting for my parents, grandparents and little bro on Sunday. More of which anon, but for now, the salad:
(Mostly) Nigel Slater’s Warm Jerusalem Artichoke Salad with Bacon
500g Jerusalem artichokes
200g smoked streaky bacon
12 blanched whole hazelnuts
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp grain mustard
small bunch of flat leaf parsley
Peel the artichokes, dipping each one into cold water with a drop of lemon juice in as you go. This will stop them browning. Bring to the boil in deep water, add salt, then cook until knifepoint tender.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a nonstick pan till lightly crisp, then cut into finger-thick strips and drop into a salad bowl. Make a dressing with the olive oil, lemon juice and mustard. Season and whisk together. Chop the parsley and stir into the dressing. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking tray, turn the oven on and put the nuts in to toast for a few minutes as it heats up. Chop coarsely.
Drain the artichokes and slice them thickly (I like them quite chunky for this recipe). Over a moderate heat, in the pan you used to cook the bacon, cook the artichokes till nicely coloured on both sides. Now toss them carefully with the bacon and the dressing.