I’m so sorry, everyone.
Here in central Maryland, the temperatures warmed up in the past few days; the ground thawed; the snow (mostly) melted; and I could finally dig up sunchokes (Helianthus tuberosus) again. Yes, that’s right – one last sunchoke recipe to share!
(OK, that’s not true. I’m going to attempt a batch of lacto-fermented sunchokes with the last of my harvest, and that will be the last sunchoke recipe of the season. I promise!)
This time, I noticed the small “eyes” on the tubers had started to protrude, indicating that soon they will begin growing in earnest. Thus ends the harvesting season for one of my favorite foraged foods. In the next few days, I need to dig up more tubers from my patch, because sunchokes benefit from being thinned out; otherwise they will overcrowd themselves and die off.
I know I keep going on about sunchokes, but they are so tasty and so versatile and there is something SO COOL about being able to dig up food out of the ground in February, when the landscape is dormant and the garden a distant future dream.
If you want to try sunchokes but worry about the gastrointestinal side effects, this recipe – sweet and spicy roasted sunchokes topped with candied pecans and goat cheese – is worth the risk! Soaking the sunchokes in water with apple cider vinegar (about 2 tablespoons per pound) helps mitigate the flatulence-causing inulin as does a) harvesting late in the winter, when the cold has converted some of the starches to sugars and b) cooking them for a very long time. And while this recipe should serve six, my husband and I ate the entire pan, except for the portion set aside for photos for this blog post. If we had eaten “normal” servings, perhaps our gut flora and fauna would handled the inulin more gracefully (and less noisily)!
This recipe is ANYTHING but low carb, so if that’s where your dietary preferences lie, beware! It’s worth it though. Call it carb-loading, because at least these are healthy carbs. (OK, not the brown sugar!) And the recipe is paleo-ish. You could substitute coconut sugar for the brown sugar (although personally I have the same reservations about coconut sugar as I do coconut oil), and you could leave off the goat cheese but trust me … you really, really don’t want to. It’s so good. I’m not kidding.
Serves 6 (theoretically)
- 2 lbs sunchokes
- 1/4 c apple cider vinegar
- 4 Tbs unsalted butter
- 1/2 c brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder (or more, to taste)
- 4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
- 1 Tbs fresh thyme leaves
- 2 Tbs butter
- 1 c pecans, chopped
- 3 Tbs maple syrup
- 1 Tbs brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Clean and chop the sunchokes. Soak in enough water to cover, plus apple cider vinegar, for as long as time permits. Drain and rinse the sunchokes.
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Place butter on roasting pan in the oven until melted and starting to brown. Add sunchokes and stir to coat with butter. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Mix brown sugar, salt, black pepper, cinnamon, paprika, and chili powder in a small bowl. After the sunchokes have cooked for 30 minutes, add to the pan with the sunchokes, stir thoroughly, and return to the oven for another 30 minutes. Again, stir occasionally to ensure sunchokes roast evenly and are coated in the spices.
- While the sunchokes are roasting, prepare the pecans. Melt butter in a medium pan on low heat. Add the pecans, maple syrup, brown sugar and salt and stir to thoroughly coat. Continue stirring until pecans are glazed and toasted, about five minutes. Remove from heat.
- When sunchokes have finished roasting, sprinkle with goat cheese, candied pecans, and fresh thyme leaves. Serve warm.