Farmers Market Finds: Roasted Sunchoke Salad

Our intrepid Salad Correspondent Natalie Hoch checks in with a report on what’s available in greenmarket-land this time of year, returning with a surprisingly warm and filling plate of veggies.

The farmer’s market is just the best. I know by now it’s generally understood that eating locally and consciously is a fruitful and delicious way to live. It’s no longer the revelation it used to be to write about how great this long-standing marketing (as Julia Child called it) tradition is. And yet, there are always those days when it hits me more than usual just how much richer the farmer’s market makes my life and my kitchen.

roasted sunchoke salad
Take one sunny, chilly Sunday a few weeks ago, when my husband and I decided to walk across Prospect Park from our St. Marks Ave apartment to Ditmas Park. It was just meant to be a stroll for exercise and enjoying the park, with hopes of a cappuccino and maybe a snack at the fabulous Farm on Adderley on the other end.

However, when we found the brunch line way too long for our liking, we grabbed our warm bevvies to go and decided to stroll down Cortelyou Road to check out the neighborhood a bit more. A few blocks down we stumbled upon a modest little market along the street with about five farm stands. We barely had cash and had no bags—we hadn’t planned on shopping—but the sight of these gnarly, knobby, soft brown roots caught my eye and I couldn’t resist.

Sunchokes, or as many cooks and farmers call them, Jerusalem artichokes, are the root of a variety of sunflower. A great source of iron (who knew!), these yummy little suckers are everywhere on menus and markets across the eastern US. They are in season from October to March, and they are flippin’ delicious. Confusingly, they are not related to the artichoke, but have a nutty, sweet flavor a bit reminiscent of it.

Aftter the Ditmas Park discovery, we brought our little sunchokes home and I threw together this crazy delicious salad by roasting them up with crispy pancetta, crunchy walnuts, and a small bite from vinegary shallot. Here’s how I made it:

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  1. says

    I have never tried these. Didn’t even know you could put them in salads. Wow, thanks! A new ingredient. Will pick some up at Trader Joe’s.

  2. Melanie Haiken says

    I’ve never known what a sunchoke was; I’d have guessed a type of artichoke. Thanks for enlightening me!

  3. libmenger says

    Oh, my. You can just grow them yourselves! Buy a few nice looking roots and plant them right now in good soil, that gets half a day of full sun and stand back. Next spring, up they will come. Mine grow to 6-8 feet tall and bloom with lovely yellow “follow the sun” flowers in the fall. When the flowers finish, time to dig. Like an Easter egg hunt, all those lovely ‘chokes in the ground. Husband likes them raw in salad; I like them roasted in a salad. Be sure to leave some in the ground, or put some back into the ground for next year. Don’t try to save in a root cellar or whatever. Use now, or forever hold your peace!