Once a restaurant-only vegetable, sunchokes are now becoming more widely available. Sunchokes are the root of a variety of sunflower, and have a nutty, sweet flavor. They can be eaten raw, in which case they are crunchy and mild, or cooked, which renders them unctuous and almost meaty. This is a simple side dish preparation for this delicious tuber, but you could also try using them in place of potatoes at your next meal.
1 lb sunchokes, scrubbed well to remove any dirt in the crevices
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 C fresh parsley
2 T fresh oregano
1 C fresh cilantro
1/4 C red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 pinch chili flakes
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
rice flour, as needed
1/2 C vegetable oil, or as needed, for frying
salt and pepper, to taste
Place the sunchokes in a roasting pan, season with salt and pepper, cover with foil, and place in your wood oven to cook. Allow the sunchokes to roast until soft, 35 minutes to 1 hour depending on the temperature of your oven. When the sunchokes are done, remove the foil and allow them to cool.
While the sunchokes are roasting, make your chimichurri. Place the garlic, parsley, oregano, cilantro, vinegar, cumin, chili flake and salt and pepper to taste in the bowl of a food processor. Puree. With the motor still running, slowly pour in the olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. The chimichurri can also be made several hours ahead to give the flavors time to meld.
When the sunchokes are cool enough to handle, use the bottom of a small pot to squash each one into a flat disk. They will be delicate and some will fall apart – that’s ok. Heat 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil in a large skillet in your wood oven. Dredge the sunchokes in the rice flour and fry them in the oil in batches, turning once. Add more oil to the pan as necessary. Remove the sunchokes to a kitchen towel to drain and season with salt and pepper.
When the sunchokes are all fried and crispy, arrange on a serving vessel and drizzle with the chimichurri. Enjoy your new favorite tuber!