Lately I’ve been stuck on a theme, watching documentaries like The Future of Food and Food Inc. and reading Michael Pollan books. Inevitably we’ve been trying to get better about eating closer to home. Sure, the food that will be coming out of our yard will be as local as it gets, but we still have a LOT of room for improvement. We seem to respond well to challenges, so I came up with an idea. We’ll buy three local ingredients and turn them into a new meal.
These days I work every single hour the Olympia Farmer’s Market is open, so Jess went this weekend and got three mystery ingredients for me to work with:
broccoli rabe, sunchokes, and pea shoots
I was most excited by the sunchokes. I’ve never eaten them and we’ve been talking about trying them for a long time. It seems like they came up over and over again on Top Chef, so they must be good. I had to do a little research, though, because I seriously had no idea what to do with them.
Even though people call them Jerusalem artichokes, they are nothing like an artichoke. Sunchokes are a root vegetable, the tuber of a species of sunflower. And after pouring through about a billion recipes, I realized people just treat them like potatoes, often pairing them with potatoes. Okay, that I can do. I’ve never made au gratin potatoes before, but I decided to do au gratin sunchokes and potatoes.
Peeling sunchokes turns out to be kind of a pain, they are so knobby. This is just layers of thinly sliced red potatoes and sunchokes, with some kick ass gruyere in between (plus a bit of nutmeg, lemon zest, and pepper).
Well, then of course you pour some cream over them all and bake. Whoa, those sunchokes really punched up the flavor. You get a potato bite and it’s super creamy, and then a sunchoke bite that is more tangy and flavorful. And then sometimes you get a bite that is the best of both worlds. Pretty decadent.
I also got to have fun with some organic grape tomatoes Levi and I found at the co-op.
BEFORE. With some garlic, olive oil, thyme, salt & pepper.
AFTER. Slow roasted in the oven.
And I came up with a salad of pea shoots tossed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and topped with roasted broccoli rabe, the slow roasted tomatoes, and some pan-fried chickpeas. Oh, and some goat cheese that needed to be used up. We love salad around here but are in a perpetual salad rut, so this was great.
I’m already stoked to find 3 more local foods and get to experimenting.