Mezze & Dolce

Light Mediterranean Meals Paired with Ample Dessert

Mezze: Sunchokes with Pistachio-Mint Gremolata

Good final

Imagine an unruly, knobby fingerling potato married a delicate and dainty artichoke wife, and they had a baby. Together, they made the sunchoke – the creamy root of a North American sunflower.

I recently re-connected with sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichokes) at Outerlands, a rustic, homey restaurant in the outer sunset neighborhood of San Francisco. My re-acquaintance was a bit indirect – we ordered a side of butter roasted sunflower buds (yes, you can eat sunflower buds!), and it got me thinking: What have I done with sunflower roots lately?

Sunchokes look like a fatter, shorter variety of ginger roots but are nothing like them. They have a mild artichoke-potato flavor, and peeling them requires much more nimble fingers. I tend to carefully pick out the least bumpy of any bunch, or, if I can’t find any with smooth-ish surfaces I (gasp!) just cut off the knobs and move on. While ginger is known for soothing the stomach, sunchokes sort of have the opposite reputation. In Claudia Roden’s The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, she warns cooks that her “Jerusalem Artichokes in Tomato Sauce” might “provoke wind.” I’ve heard many people bemoan this unfortunate side effect of the sunchoke, but am happy to say, I’ve never experienced it myself. So, don’t let that deter you from making this delicious dish.

I paired these sunchokes with an adaptation of a mint gremolata I’ve been eying since we posted the recipe in our Inspiring Mint post. It combines many of the ingredients I savored in my Outerlands sunflower buds, with a whole lot of mint to brighten it up. This recipe is simple, but serves as a pleasant, more creative alternative to a basic potato side. –jaime

P.S. Sunchokes are also particularly delicious drowned in butter. If you’re ever in Healdsburg (Sonoma), check the menu at Spoon Bar to see if they’re serving their brown-buttered sunchokes. 

Ingredients

1 pound sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes)

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 loose teaspoons lemon zest, chopped into smaller pieces

3 tablespoons chopped pistachios

1 small garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup mint, roughly torn and tightly packed

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 generous dashes of salt, divided

1 tablespoon whole pistachios (optional)

1 teaspoon butter (optional)

Directions
1. Good news – you don’t need to peel the sunchokes! You do, however, need to trim away anything that looks like it’s rotting or overly pink/discolored. Then cut the sunchokes into thin, 1/4 inch slices.

2.  Saute sunchoke slices in 1 tablespoon olive oil for 15-20 minutes or until nicely browned (see photo below). Stir occasionally to ensure that the sunchokes don’t stick to the pan.

3. While the sunchokes are cooking, combine the next 5 ingredients (lemon zest through lemon juice), plus the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and generous dash of salt. Stir together, let sit for 5 minutes, then adjust the flavors to your liking.

4. When the sunchokes are fully cooked (they should be soft like a fingerling potato) and browned, remove them from the pan and layer them on a plate with paper towel to soak up some of the oil.

5. If you are adding the buttered pistachios, simply melt the teaspoon of butter in the pan where the sunchokes were. Once it’s melted, saute the pistachios for 5 minutes.

6. To serve, layer the mint gremolata on top of the sunchokes and top with the buttered pistachios.

Good Saute

Browned and fully cooked sunchokes.

Good far mar

Sunchokes at the Farmers Market

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5 comments on “Mezze: Sunchokes with Pistachio-Mint Gremolata

  1. malka
    October 29, 2013

    we had amazing sunchokes (that my three year old gobbled up) at Ray & Stark bar at LACMA- yummmmm. thanks for the delicious reminder!

    • mezzeanddolce
      October 29, 2013

      Oh yum! Thanks for the heads up, Malka! I just looked at their menu, and the whole thing looks amazing!

  2. Ani
    October 29, 2013

    I’ve never tried sunchokes, but this looks like a great place to start!

    • mezzeanddolce
      October 29, 2013

      Good luck! And if you do try them, please let us know how it goes!

  3. Pingback: Dolce: Grapefruit-Basil Shortbread | Mezze & Dolce

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This entry was posted on October 29, 2013 by in Mezze, Side Dishes and tagged , , , , , .

About Jacque & Jaime

Jaime and Jacque are two gals who discovered a mutual passion for Mediterranean flavors and ingredients and never turned back. They started Mezze & Dolce to share this love, their recipes, and their inspirations with the world. Follow them at www.mezzeanddolce.com.

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