Farmers Market Finds: Roasted Sunchoke Salad

Guest Contributor

by Guest Contributor on December 17, 2010

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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