Pizza of the month FEB29: Mozzarella, topinambur (Jerusalem artichokes), zucchini and 'nduja (it's a particularly spicy, spreadable pork salami from Italy)
Native Americans before the arrival of the Europeans cultivated Helianthus tuberosus as a food source. The tribes who first grew it traded it to other tribes in other regions. The tubers persist for years after being planted, so that the species expanded its range from central North America to the eastern and western regions. Early European colonists learned of this, and sent tubers back to Europe, where it became a popular crop and naturalized there. It later gradually fell into obscurity in North America, but attempts to market it commercially have been successful in the late 1900s and early 2000s.
The artichoke contains about 10% protein, no oil, and a surprising lack of starch. However, it is rich in the carbohydrate inulin (76%), which is a polymer of the monosaccharide fructose. Tubers stored for any length of time will convert their inulin into its component fructose. Jerusalem artichokes have an underlying sweet taste because of the fructose, which is about one and a half times as sweet as sucrose.
Jerusalem artichokes have also been promoted as a healthy choice for type 2 diabetics, because fructose is better tolerated by people who are type 2 diabetic. It has also been reported as a folk remedy for diabetes. Temperature variances have been shown to affect the amount of inulin the Jerusalem artichoke can produce. When not in tropical regions, it has been shown to make less inulin than when it is in a warmer region.
It's a particularly spicy, spreadable pork salami from Italy. It is typically made with parts of the pig such as the shoulder and belly, as well as tripe, roasted peppers and a mixture of spices. It is a Calabrian variation of salami, loosely based on the French andouille introduced in the 13th century by the Angevins.
The name derives from the Latin "inducere" (to lead in, bring in, introduce, conduct, lead up, bring forward). 'Nduja is made using meat from the head (minus the jowls, which are used for guanciale), trimmings from various meat cuts, some clean skin, fatback, and roasted hot red peppers which give 'nduja its characteristic fiery taste. 'Nduja originates from the southern part of Calabria, namely from the small town of Spilinga and its neighborhood. It is mainly served with slices of bread or with ripe cheese. Its unique taste makes it suitable for a variety of dishes. For example, it can be added to pasta sauces.