Roasted Sunchokes with Orange-Pecan Gremolata

Sunchokes are abundant at winter growers' markets, and they're so funny looking, I always have to get some. They are the root of a sunflower, often called Jerusalem artichokes, but it's thought that this name is a corruption of the Italian word girasole, for sunflower. But I never really figured out what to do with them - a creamy soup seems like cheating somehow, because anything tastes great when slathered in cream.

Roasting is a reliable technique for bringing out great flavor in any vegetable, and sunchokes are no exception. They take on a really sweet, caramelized flavor much like sweet potatoes. Don't eat too many, though, if you've never tried them before - they contain a starch called inulin, which doesn't agree with some people. For a touch of freshness, I added a little gremolata made with fresh parsley, pecans and orange zest. Parsley is a very hardy herb, but also pretty easy to grow indoors, so it's a wonderful winter flavor.

1/2 pound sunchokes
2 T. olive oil
4 T. minced parsley
2 T. finely chopped pecans
1 clove garlic, minced
Zest of 1 orange
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 450F. Scrub sunchokes thoroughly, and slice about 1/4 inch thick. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and spread in a single layer on a sheet pan. Roast about 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Mix remaining ingredients thoroughly in a small bowl. Arrange sunchokes atop a pile of gremolata and sprinkle more over the top. Serves 2 to 4 as an appetizer or side.


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