I was intrigued the other day with Heather’s (readers might recognize her comments under Wooddogs3) experiment with young sunflower stems. Check it out here.
I wondered how the annual Helianthus annuus (sunflower) would compare to the perennial H. tuberosus (sunchokes)?
I had the green light for blanched sunchoke tops several years ago from the ever experimenting Radix. See his post here. I have yet to remember to blanch my ‘chokes, so never followed through on this.
Per the approval of my exceedingly picky food forest rabbit, I have guessed for a while that the green tops must be tasty. So I decided to try some for myself following Heather’s method for sunflower.
My hugelkulture, mentioned in “Roots as of now,” is overwhelmed with the stuff anymore (“Clearwater” variety. Runs like mad) making it easy to snap off a handful. They’re about a foot tall now.
Accept for the very tips, I removed the leaves, which rabbit enjoyed for her lunch, and the tendon-like strings near the bottoms by peeling off the skin. The upper half didn’t have any strings I could find.
It was a bit tedious, and took me around 15 minutes for what’s pictured.
Without further processing I threw them into a hot skillet of butter and avacado oil (no particular reason for this oil. I like to mix butter and oil for saute, and avacado is what I had around) tipping the pan one way and another to cover the stems in hot oil until soft and crisp.
They tasted good. A mild bitterness, which to me is more than a stand-alone warrants, but good as an ingredient.
Most surprisingly, the leaf tips I left on were the most mild part -crunchy, and quite pleasant. Hardly any fuzziness as I had expected.
I chopped these up and mixed them with some lambsquarter shoots cooked the same way.
You’ll notice I didn’t mention any flavoring for these greens. None were added. I mixed up a ginger-sesame salad dressing, drizzled this over the top with a sprinkling of goji berries and called it good.
It was very good. The slight bitterness of the sunchokes became a nutty richness when combined with the lambsquarter. There was one bite where I realized I was munching on a sunchoke leaf, but that was due to a delightful crispness.
Thanks for the inspiration Heather!