I know it probably seemed like I dropped off the planet there for a while. In many ways, I was truly taking a break for the holidays and trying to re-fuel for my photography business so the past 2 months I spent a little less time in front of the computer and a lot more time enjoying life with my family off-line. That meant less posts, less blogging and less general social interaction. It was AWESOME – and long overdue. In fact, one day during all of this I ran out to the store and forgot my phone. Once I got over the initial sweating and panic, it was the greatest hour of my life.
At the same time, behind the scenes I was actually working on quite a few things that are all starting to surface now, including some exciting new things for Olive and Herb. First, I have been toiling over completing my brand new professional website (still in the final tweaking stage) that showcases the new direction my business is taking – and that project took a ton of blood, sweat and tears. Secondly, I am in the process of opening a new local studio (for portraits & tabletop photography) which is going to (hopefully) bring more balance back into my life. No more driving an hour to my studio just to start my day! Yay! And finally, I have fully grasped the impact of adding a food blog into my busy life. It took 6 months to realize how much a commitment it really is and that I wasn’t exactly ready for it when I launched. It took time to figure out how to successfully add one more project to my task list without life being completely out of control again. But, happily, I have worked through it and am excited to not only get back on the wagon with posting regularly but also to add some cool new content (like the meal planning concept and some featured expert series) that makes me all giddy inside. If I’m going to work hard to publish this blog every week, I want to share my all; all that I am doing and learning in my own kitchen and all the things with which the people in my community and life inspire me (food-wise, anyway!).
So, back to today’s post! My fall CSA recently ended in December (devastating) but one of the things I kept seeing pop up in my weekly share was a little veggie called a Jerusalem Artichoke (or Sunchoke). I had never heard of this knobby little thing, and I was quite curious. At a whopping $10/lb for the organic variety, I wasn’t sure it would be something that would make it onto my regular grocery list, but since Cottingham Farm kept including them in my pick-up I decided I’d enjoy the delicacy while I had the chance.
Sunchokes are crunchy little tuberous root veggies that are part of the sunflower family and they are actually pretty strange looking. If you put looks aside, you’ve got a great item that slices thinly onto a salad or into a soup (similar to a water chestnut) and that bakes up in a variety of interesting ways. For instance, I have seen (but not tried) some recipes that bake them into a gratin. What I did decide to do was keep it simple and roast them and the first time I did it, I found that on the palette, they bore a striking resemblance to a french fry – the thick yummy market style kind – and that was how I kept preparing them. The skin browned perfectly like a potato fry and they retained a wonderful exploding texture when you crunched them. So naturally my kid loved them and my husband begged for more.
This recipe is so simple and works perfectly as a healthy (and Paleo) alternative to a baked hash brown or steak fry. These little guys are easy to prepare (no peeling required) and they cook up in about 20-25 minutes. I admit that $10/lb is a lot to spend on a french fry, but if you love fries as much as I do this is a fun way to turn a low-cal veggie packed with fiber, thiamin, iron and potassium into a yummy side dish that feels much more indulgent than it is.
I like the simplicity of tossing a raw veggie in oil, herbs and a few spices and just popping them in the oven. I find myself doing this with a lot of them – radishes, red potatoes, cherry tomatoes, turnips. When you do this you really let the vegetable play the main role in the dish – you enhance the flavors while making the prep super easy on yourself.
I have served these alongside steak, grilled chicken and usually include a whopping pile of sauteed greens. They are plenty tasty served as-is right out of the oven, but if you really want to play up that hash brown/market fry experience, go with a little ketchup and your taste buds will be convinced.
- 1lb Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes), scrubbed
- ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped italian or curled parsley
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees
- Scrub the Sunchokes with a potato brush and chop into 1 inch bite-size chunks
- Toss in a medium sized bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper until coated
- Place onto a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, turning once, until the skin is slightly browned
- Sprinkle with fresh parsley. Serve plain or with a side of ketchup.