Last weekend while preparing a medley of roasted root vegetables for lunch, I popped outside to collect fresh herbs, as I often do, a pair of scissors in hand.
Living in a place where I can see the garden from the kitchen and simply pop outside to pick herbs on a whim was the dream I had when we were looking for our next place to live. While there was a long list of criteria that superseded this small point, it was ultimately this vision that kept popping up in my mind as an ideal.
Prior to that there was always some barrier. In the apartment there was a separation between our living quarters and the rooftop garden. I was never able to look out at it fondly from indoors and popping out for herbs wasn’t really difficult, but it wasn’t accessible in the way our garden is now. Furthermore, a good portion of my herbs were grown in-ground at the community garden plot, which meant planning ahead and cooking with fresh herbs that weren’t minutes or even seconds off of the plant as they are now. It’s one of those small differences that makes me feel happy and grateful to have found this house, regardless of its many (MANY) faults. We’ve affectionately named it “Home of the Half-Assed” for a reason.
But I digress (as always). The real reason for this post wasn’t to tell you about the garden or my small dream. It was to say that while I was outside collecting herbs, I remembered the Jerusalem artichokes that have been waiting in the ground to be harvested. These chunky tubers taste best after they’ve been touched by the cold weather, but I will admit that the real reason I had put off harvesting them was that I was afraid to face the sheer quantity of tubers that are lurking below the surface, and the work I will need to do to preserve some of them. I’m still dealing with the tomatoes, believe it or not!
So it was with some trepidation that I grabbed a small shovel and a basket and headed to the back of the garden to assess the situation. Sure enough, we have been inundated. Wow. The roots are massive in size and thickly intertwined. I dug up a small basket’s worth, and am predicting a real windfall once I get the big shovel out and really dig up the area. The weather is supposed to be mild this weekend — I’d like to get them harvested before the ground freezes.
We had our first taste of the tubers thinly sliced and roasted alongside several other root vegetables and herbs that very day. Ours included carrots, golden beets, shallots, slices of ‘Delicata’ squash, ‘Orange Balsam’ thyme, and rosemary, but you can include any combination of root vegetables, alliums, or woody herbs that you have on hand. Turn the oven up high (about 400F) and roast on a pan, tossed with a sprinkling of olive oil and Balsamic vinegar (herbal vinegars work well, too). We enjoyed ours with homemade ketchup.