QUESTLON: Recently I saw pasta in my natural food store that contained Jerusalem artichoke flour. What is a Jerusalem artichoke, and why would one want to use its flour in pasta?

ANSWER: The Jerusalem artichoke, a relative of the sunflower, bears no resemblance to sq artichoke. It’s a brown-skinned, knobby root Native to North America, Jerusalem artichokes were a staple in Native American diets.

I sometimes grate them raw in salads, use them as a substitute water chestnuts, cook them like’ potatoes, sauté, steam together with carrots and parsnips and mash (add a little olive oil and salt and pepper) or simmer in soups! Don’t cook Jerusalem artichokes too long or they become rubbery They are a little sweet and are said to help satisfy a sugar craving.

The company which has used Jerusalem artichoke flour in pasta for over 30 years is Deboles. Their ration is a 1 to 10 with durum semolina. Jerusalem artichoke flour gives pasta better flavor, nice texture and better nutrition. Jerusalem artichoke flour is said to be

good for diabetics because it stimulates insulin production, thereby reducing insulin needs. Jerusalem artichokes are said also to nourish lungs and help relieve asthmatic conditions.

In any case, they’re another food to provide variety and interest to what ‘you eat Those of you with gardens might try growing them this year. They’re an easy root to grow — you can cut a root up and bury pieces just like with potatoes but watch out for their tendency to take over your garden! They love to multiply underground.