Thanksgiving is almost upon us, just a few days away day away. Consider this bright, easy to prepare, piquant side dish for your final menu.
In my never ending quest to discover and showcase new vegetable preparations, today’s focus is the humble root — sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichokes, which, by the way, have no relation to either Jerusalem or artichokes).
Sunchokes are a member of the Sunflower family. They’re native to eastern North America. Sunchokes may not be a staple at the Thanksgiving table, but they nicely complement any fall meal. They’re nutty and become sweet (as their sugars caramelize) and tender when roasted in the oven.
Think roasted potato, but nuttier.
I have two (roasted) sunchoke preparations today: The first is prepared simply with olive oil, fresh rosemary, salt and pepper, and finished with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar; the second is tossed with roasted poblano chiles, thinly sliced green onions, cilantro, and Greek yogurt, and finished with a drizzle of garlic mojo and toasted pumpkin seeds (a la Rick Bayless).
Poblano chiles have a distinct, but not overpowering, flavor profile (herbal, smoky, slightly spicy) such that they will gently stand above, without overpowering, any of the traditional flavors on your Thanksgiving table. As for the roasted garlic mojo, well, you’ll be tempted to drizzle this addictive liquid on anything and everything.
I have a small collection of root vegetables left over from a cooking demo (featuring roots) I did at the National Geographic Museum last weekend. Hmm, now just need to figure out what to do with the rest of them…
Simply roast the sunchokes with plenty of olive oil and seasoned with salt, until nicely browned and tender to the bite…
For the roasted garlic mojo…
Roast the poblano chiles (this can be done over an open flame on a gas stovetop or grill; alternatively, you can roast the poblanos under the broiler). When nicely charred, cover them with a clean kitchen towel (the steam helps to loosen the skin) and set aside for a few minutes. With the side of a chef’s knife, scrape off the skin and any charred bits, de-seed, and chop…
Lastly, top with toasted pumpkin seeds…
Sun Chokes (aka Jerusalem Artichokes) with a Garlic Mojo
Adapted Slightly from Rick Bayless
2 pounds of sunchokes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch chuncks
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large poblano chiles
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
1 green onion, thinly sliced on a bias
a couple of tablespoons of garlic mojo solids (recipe below)
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the sunchokes with olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt. Roast, turning them from time to time, until they are completely tender and beginning to brown, about 40-45 minutes. Let cool.
While the sunchokes are roasting, roast the poblano chiles over an open flame or under a preheated broiler, turning them until they are blackened and blistered all over, about 5 minutes for an open flame, 10 minutes for the broiler. Cover with a kitchen towel for 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, rub off the blackened skin with the side of a chef’s knife. Remove and discard the seeds. Chop the poblano. Place in a bowl.
Add the roasted sunchokes to the bowl with the poblano, along with the yogurt, green onion, the garlic mojo solids, and cilantro. Toss everything together. Taste and season with salt. Serve with toasted pumpkin seeds.
Note: In place of sunchokes, substitute with roasted fingerling potatoes,carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, little turnips, etc.
Roasted Garlic Mojo
1 head of garlic, cloves separated, but not peeled
½ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
In a large dry skillet, roast the garlic cloves over medium heat, turning regularly until they’re soft and blackened in spots, 10-15 minutes. Let cool, peel, place in a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Turn the machine on and add the olive oil in a steady stream. Stop the machine, add the lime juice and a pinch of sea salt to taste. Pulse briefly to incorporate. Store refrigerated in a sealed container.