Hannah Palmer Egan
Sunchokes are one of those rare, easy-keeping winter foods that are fairly light and great almost any way you prepare them. I've seen them roasted, fried (as chips, fries and diced candied nuggets) and pureed into soups, sides and a dozen other dishes.
Also called Jerusalem artichoke, the sunchoke is a prolific local wildflower (and staple food for Vermont's native Abenaki people). The tuber-forming plants are in the same family as the sunflower. They grow similarly tall, but, as perennials, creep into expansive clumps that can take over whole swaths of one's yard if left unchecked. But they're easy to grow, nutritious and delicious, and widely available at winter farmers markets.
Though many cooks darken their nutty character with maple, brown sugar or smoke, I like to stoke their subtle, honeyed notes by roasting them with herbs and dried flowers and a touch of maple or honey. Calendula — a common garden annual favored by herbalists for its medicinal qualities — has a bright, peppery flavor somewhere between a dandelion and a marigold, and a summery, floral fragrance.
With temps forecasted to stay in frigid digits for much of this week, any excuse to turn on the oven — and savor the scent of summer — is a good one.
Glazed Sunchokes With Calendula
Hannah Palmer Egan
Roasted sunchokes with maple and calendula
Serves 3-4, as a side
- 1-1 1/2 pounds sunchokes
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon dried calendula flowers (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Using a scrubby or other abrasive cloth, scrub away the skin of the sunchokes. This doesn't have to be perfect — just get enough off so that the tubers are mostly cream colored on the outside. Quarter the roots lengthwise so they're about a half-inch thick, oblong and knobby.
- Toss the sunchokes in a bowl with oils, tamari and just a little salt and pepper.
- Roast in a skillet or sheet pan for 20 minutes. Remove from oven; add maple syrup and calendula (if using) and stir well, then roast another 15-20 minutes. Sample for flavor, add more maple (and salt!) if you like, stir well and place under the broiler for five or so minutes to crisp the edges.