Sunchokes with Walnuts and Orange Zest
Summer is here, my friends! So are lots of summer plans to fill up our evenings making it harder to find the time to cook at home. Or at least that is what I am finding. Not to mention wanting to be healthy so that I don’t completely embarrass myself at the beach. Oh, and isn’t it just too hot to turn on the oven or even the stove? My window AC unit just can’t handle the heat as it is! So what’s a girl to do?
Well, for a while now—two months to be exact—I’ve been carrying around a recipe that I tore out of my New York magazine. Every issue features an item in the food section that is in season at the local farmers’ markets, and this particular issue featured sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem artichokes). I’ve seen this interesting looking root vegetable before but never knew what to do with it. In fact, once I picked some up at the farmers’ market only for them to go bad before I figured out a recipe for them. Not this time. I had already wasted too many sunchokes’ lives, and it was time for me to step up to the plate (no puns intended).
So this afternoon as I reach into my purse for something, I was quite pleased to see the worn out page with the recipe. What a perfect time to finally make this salad. It’s easy. It’s healthy. It doesn’t require any heat. At last!
This particular recipe comes from Mario Batali, hence the creatively clever use of ingredients (he might be a celebrity chef, but I’m a fan). The orange zest is such a nice twist, adding freshness with some zing. The walnuts add a nice crunch. The garlic rounds out the flavor. The recipe calls for toasting the walnuts, and I definitely recommend that you do this. I skipped that step (I was pretty determined to not turn on a stove or oven) but wish I hadn’t because that would have concentrated the nuttiness and enhanced the nutty flavor of the sunchokes. I also think adding a little bit a crumbled feta cheese would make this dish that much better. Just a thought, Mario.
I also want to note that this recipe calls for thinly shaving the sunchokes, which is important. If the slices are too thick, it will make for a less appetizing, heavy salad. You will need a mandoline or vegetable slicer to shave them. If you have none of these items but desperately still want to make the salad, I suggest cutting the slices crosswise into sticks to “lighten” them.
By the way, if you are wondering, “Um, Kristin, what the heck does a sunchoke even taste like?” let me answer that. Uncooked, it’s texture and density is similar to that of other raw root vegetables, like potatoes but slightly smoother. Also the flavor is mellow with a raw nuttiness, making it a great starting component to a dish.
Shall we move onto the recipe now? Here you go folks:
- 1 lb firm sunchokes, scrubbed clean
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup fresh Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
- 2 tbsp slivered orange zest
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
- Flaky sea salt or Kosher salt, to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- Thinly shave the sunchokes with a mandoline, vegetable slicer, or food processor (if you have a thin slicer attachment).
- Add the shaved sunchokes to a large bowl and toss thoroughly with olive oil.
- Mix in the parsley, walnuts, orange zest, garlic and optional feta.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
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