Serving Up Sunchokes Two Ways

It’s always a treat to come across an unrecognizable fruit or vegetable at the farmers market.  The last time I was out I spotted these small, ginger-like nubs I had never seen. Those little nubs turned out to be sunchokes, which are also called Jerusalem Artichokes. I’m not sure how common sunchokes are, but I highly recommend experimenting with them if you can find them.

If I had to describe a sunchoke, I can easily say it’s like a cross between an artichoke and a potato, but it looks a lot more like ginger as I mentioned before. Here is a photo:

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These babies are flavorful and hearty, and a vegetable I honestly think most people would enjoy, even skeptics and picky eaters.  Sunchokes can be served as a side dish to a meal, but I enjoyed them in these two recipes:

 

Sunchoke and Roasted Garlic Soup

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Ingredients

-1 lb sunchokes, scrubbed, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

-1 russet potato, medium

-1 yellow onion, sliced

-6 cloves garlic, peeled

-1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (adjust if you prefer more mild)

-1 tablespoon olive oil

-6 cups chicken broth or water (use bouillon cube for flavoring if using water)

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Toast garlic cloves in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in large pot.  When hot, add the sunchokes, potato, onion, crushed red pepper flakes,  nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Saute about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until vegetables are lightly browned and softened. Add the garlic.
  3. Add the water or broth, more salt, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes minimum.  I prefer to keep it cooking for a few hours for an extra flavorful soup.
  4. Process the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender either until smooth or almost smooth, depending on whether you like some chunks of veggies.  Check for seasoning and serve.

 

 

Broccoli di Ciccio and Warm Sunchoke Salad

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Ingredients

-1/4 lb sunchokes, scrubbed, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

-Three handfuls of broccoli di Ciccio

– Pomegranate seeds

-Honey goat cheese (or other favorite goat cheese)

-Handful of almonds, chopped

-Lemon slice

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

-salt and pepper

 

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Mix broccoli di Ciccio in a large salad bowl with the seeds, almonds, cheese, lemon, remaining olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Toss and put in the fridge covered.
  2. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. In a bowl, mix sunchokes with about 1 tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Roast for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Remove salad from the fridge and combine with the sunchokes. Serve.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Stay warm this Fall with my new favorite soup!

butternut-squash

Ingredients:

(Serves 4)

-1 butternut squash

-1 yellow onion, chopped

-1 small Granny Smith apple, chopped

-1 small Gala apple, chopped

-5 thyme sprigs

-2 tablespoons butter, melted

-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

-1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

-1 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

-salt and pepper

-4 cups chicken broth

Instructions:

1.  Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  

2.  Place squash in the microwave for about 4-5 minutes so that it’s softened and easier/safer to cut.  Remove both ends of the squash, then cut in half lengthwise.  Peel the tough, outer skin and remove the “guts” from the inside of the squash.  Continue to cut the squash into smaller, bite-size pieces.

3.  Place the squash in a bowl with the melted butter and thyme leaves, then generously salt and pepper.  Place on the lined baking sheet and cook in the oven for 40 minutes, flipping halfway through.  The squash should be tender enough to pierce with a fork at the end of cooking.

4.  When the squash has cooked for 20 minutes, heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat, and add the olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add the onions and optional sugar (generally I wouldn’t recommend sugar, but since this is a lot of soup, it’s hardly any sugar per serving).  Add the apples, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Cook for about 20 minutes, or until soft and fragrant. 

5.  In batches, add the cooked squash and onion/apple mixture to the blender along with a cup of chicken broth with each batch.  Blend until smooth.  Continue to add the squash, onions, apples and broth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with thyme.  Enjoy!

Lo·ca·vore

Locavore:  one who eats foods grown locally whenever possible.  (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

This new year I recommend trying to eat and buy foods grown locally.  Since my boyfriend and I dubbed ourselves locavores in 2014, it quickly became apparent that the quality of food was far superior to any commercial food products.  Not only is locally grown food more fresh, but there’s less fuel and chemicals involved in the transportation of the food.  Additionally, by supporting local businesses you’re giving less business to big corporations, which is a great thing because it stimulates jobs for local people and promotes whole foods and better eating.

The locavore movement was influenced by a Canadian couple, Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, who spearheaded the 100-mile diet in 2005.  For a whole year the couple ate only foods produced within a 100-mile radius.  This may not be easy for everyone, so start off with just a single family meal made of all locally sourced products. Taste the difference and put some love in that cooking!

I admit living in San Francisco I’m totally spoiled by the food options and local farms surrounding my area.  Every week I either visit my neighborhood farmers market (Clement Street represent!) or have my food delivered directly to my door by Good Eggs, a company that brings farm foods and locally-sourced products straight to my door.  It’s the bomb.  There are also other companies out there that deliver fresh foods and not just in San Francisco.  My advice is to look into farms or CSAs (community supported agriculture) near your own area and see where the farmers sell their products or see if there’s someone who’d deliver the food fresh for you.  CSAs are a great way to get to know your local farmers!

Check out some of my favorite, must-have products in San Francisco:

I love the spatchcock chickens by Roli Roti.  The company gets their chickens in the Bay Area and I order mine fresh from Good Eggs.

I love the spatchcock chickens by Roli Roti. The company gets their chickens in the Bay Area and I order mine fresh from Good Eggs.

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Thank you to the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation in Capay Valley, CA for producing this incredible olive oil. This product has taught me the importance of cooking with quality olive oil.

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Happy Boy Farms, near Watsonville, CA, keeps my belly very happy with their amazingly fresh and bright lettuces.

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It’s a secret what’s inside Omnivore Salt, but the flavoring has never let me down! I use it on nearly everything I cook.

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Given the amount of eggs I eat, I don’t mind paying a little extra for quality, pasteurized eggs. These multi-colored beauties come from Red Hill Farms in Marin County, CA.