Ugly Veggies Go Glam: Sunchokes with Orange Hazelnut Gremolata

by Pamela

sunchokes, gremolata, sunchokes recipes, gremolata recipe

While strolling through the produce department of your local grocery store, you’ve probably seen some pretty unusual things.  (No, I’m not talking about that teenage couple macking all over each other or that pervy guy eyeballing the cucumbers like he’s just met his perfect match.)  I’m talking about the vegetables themselves.  Things like celery root, cherimoya, pomelo’s and sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichokes).  Sunchokes look like some kind of cousin to ginger root.  They’re small, knobby and have a smooth-ish almost waxy like exterior (come to think of it, I once dated a guy who met that same description).  Like all those other weird things in the produce aisle that you don’t buy (or that you once dated) you ask yourself: What the hell am I supposed to do with that?

A little background on the heretofore mentioned sunchoke: they are not from Jerusalem and are not artichokes.  They are, however, a tuber (like potatoes) that is from a plant which is related to sunflowers.

I mention potatoes (well, because those are tubers too) because sunchokes can be used in a lot of ways just like potatoes can.  Sunchokes can be roasted, pan fried, mashed pureed and fried.  But unlike potatoes, sunchokes can be eaten raw and they taste fantastic that way.  Yes, I am aware that some people eat potatoes raw (Craig is one of those people.  I don’t get it and I don’t want to get it.  Call me closed minded, you aren’t going to offend me.)

Raw-Sunchokes

While I’m an equal opportunity vegetable eater (I don’t care what the vegetable looks like…I’ll eat it) I thought it might be time to give the lowly sunchoke a glam makeover.  You know a little trim, some nice color and of course a bit of bling.  Hey, makeovers aren’t just for those women who cram quadruple F boobies into a size medium tank top (although I do suppose that makes for slightly more entertaining television).

I busted out the winter citrus to give these little tubers some zing and topped them with an orange hazelnut gremolata.  By the way, gremolata is a really fancy word for a chopped herb condiment.  You’ll typically find it topping a really rich dish like osso bucco.  The citrus, garlic and herb flavors help to cut through the richness of the dish.  Think of a gremolata as sort of the streusel topping of the main course world.

But gremolata doesn’t have to be reserved for heavy dishes only.  No, you can use this little topping secret to help spice up the flavor of lots of dishes.  While the traditional mixture of citrus and herbs is lemon, parsley and garlic you can let your hair down a bit and have some fun with it.  Change up the combination to work with whatever dish you’ll be topping with it.  This gremolata recipe uses blood orange (peel and juice), lemon, garlic, hazelnuts, parsley and olive oil.  See what I mean?  C-R-A-Z-Y!!!!

I lightly sauteed the sunchokes for this recipe, but you could leave them raw and it would be just as delicious (and save you some time).  Oh, and you don’t have to peel sunchokes either.

Relationship Advice

According to the all knowing rag mag Star Magazine, J. Lo is giving her new boy toy $10K a week.  What the what?

Apparently Ms. CGI Fiat driver is just an old fashioned girl at heart and didn’t like having to pay every time the two of them went out (how about not going out in public with your latest in betweener wiener – problem solved).  So now she gives him an allowance so that he can buy her and the kids nice things.  And she doesn’t have to whip out her credit card to pay for their outing.

Here’s my complaint with this.  Women want to be treated equally right (I do)?  Well, when a man gives an “allowance” to his girl of the month, it’s so that she can buy herself things so that she’ll be happy and look nice when the two of them are together.  If he wants a gift,  he’s got the money and he’ll buy it for himself and not think twice about it.  Why then if a woman is giving out an allowance should the expectations of where/how the money is spent be any different?

Can women really have their cake and eat it too?

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Recipe: Sunchokes with Orange Hazelnut Gremolata

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons Parsley (chopped)
  • 2 Tablespoons Orange Zest (I used blood oranges)
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Zest
  • 2 Tablespoons Hazelnuts (chopped)
  • 1 Tablespoon Blood Orange Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil (divided)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic (minced)
  • Sea Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Pound Sunchokes (cleaned and sliced thin)

Instructions

  1. In a medium size bowl combine parsley, zests, hazelnuts, orange juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil and garlic. Stir thoroughly. Taste and add salt and pepper accordingly. Set aside.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to non-stick frying pan. Once shimmering, add in the slices of sunchokes.
  3. Sauté, over medium high heat, the sunchokes until they begin to turn golden brown on the edges. This took me about 5-7 minutes. Stir the sunchokes occasionally.
  4. Once browned, remove from heat.
  5. Place slices onto plates and spoon gremolata over top.
  6. Serve.

Quick notes

If you plan to slice the sunchokes well in advance of cooking them (or if you’re serving them raw) you will need to place the slices into acidulated water. Into a bowl of water that is big enough to hold the slices completely covered in water, add the juice from half of a lemon. This will keep the slices from browning before you cook them.

For this recipe I peeled the skins of the orange and lemon with a peeler and removed any traces of pith with the back of a knife.  Then I chopped it into smaller pieces.  That’s why the citrus looks like small strips.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 5 minute(s)

Diet type: Vegan

Diet tags: Gluten free

Number of servings (yield): 4

Culinary tradition: USA (General)

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