Crispy roasted sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes) are combined with fresh fennel and baby greens in this prebiotic-packed bright and refreshing salad served with a tangy lemon mustard dressing.
I started buying sunchokes about a year ago.
I’d always heard of them, actually more so their other name, Jerusalem artichokes, but had never purchased them.
When I started shopping more regularly at Whole Foods and in the organic section of my local store, all of sudden they were front and center in the produce section and I was tempted to throw some in my cart.
Except, I had no clue what to do with them.
Then, after reading Fiber Fueled last May (which is one of my favorite all-time health related books!) and learning all about the prebiotic benefits of sunchokes, I was sold and determined to figure out the best way to enjoy this fiber packed vegetable.
My first intuition ended up being the best.
I figured, hey, they look like little potatoes, so why not roast them like a potato?
And with that first tray that came out of the oven, I’ve been buying them weekly ever since.
Sometimes we eat sunchokes in place of potatoes or another starch, other times I like incorporating them into a salad either roasted like this or raw.
Today, you’ll get the best of both worlds: learning how to roast sunchokes and then also incorporate them into a deliciously refreshing and bright salad with a tangy mustard lemon dressing.
Whether you choose to make just the roasted sunchokes or the whole recipe is up to you!
HOW TO ROAST SUNCHOKES
The key to crispy and delicious roasted sunchokes is thinly slicing them.
You don’t need a mandolin for this (it’s a kitchen gadget I’ve never owned) just a good sharp chef’s knife.
You’ll want the sunchoke slices about 1/8″ thick.
Basically, thick enough to hold up to a 400°F oven for 30 minutes but not too thick they don’t get crispy.
While the oven preheats, toss the sliced sunchokes with avocado oil (my favorite oil to roast with due to its higher smoke point), salt and pepper.
Spread the sunchokes out onto a baking sheet in as even a layer as possible and roast for 30 minutes.
Toss the sunchokes a few times while they roast to encourage even cooking and that each piece has the opportunity to get crispy.
MAKE THE SALAD TO GO WITH THE ROASTED SUNCHOKES
While the sunchokes roast, prepare the salad ingredients.
Combine the thinly sliced fennel and either arugula or watercress (I used baby watercress here) together in a large bowl.
Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing:
- extra virgin olive oil
- lemon juice
- dijon mustard
- salt & pepper
Pour the dressing into the bowl with the greens and toss until well combined.
Once the roasted sunchokes come out of the oven, add them to the bowl, toss gently and serve with flaky sea salt to garnish.
WHAT ARE SUNCHOKES?
Before we get into all the details about these delicious little potato lookalikes, let’s talk about what they actually are.
Sunchokes are the tuberous root of a sunflower plant!
Especially because they’re often referred to as a Jerusalem artichoke yet have no affiliation with Jerusalem nor are they in the artichoke family!
Looks wise, they’re kind of a cross between a potato and fresh ginger.
Their skin is often brown like a potato (although it can have hues of pink or red too) yet it’s appearance is a bit nubby like fresh ginger.
When choosing a sunchoke in the grocery store, make sure there are no soft spots.
They keep well in the refrigerator for a week or more in a plastic bag or towel.
WHAT DO SUNCHOKES TASTE LIKE?
Sunchokes have a sweet nutty flavor and a crispy texture.
When roasted like this, they very much resemble a white potato in taste and jicama chips in texture.
When raw, their texture will remind you of a crispy apple or raw jicama and taste more so like a very mild radish or turnip.
HOW TO SERVE SUNCHOKES
Besides oven roasting, which is definitely my favorite method, sunchokes can be served raw, fried, steamed and even pureed.
I’ve tried them all and while I do really love them steamed then pureed into a creamy mash (sort of like this celery root puree), I keep coming back to the roasting method.
It’s just really the best bang for your buck.
Oven roasting sunchokes is easy, quick and delicious. Once you taste a crispy roasted sunchoke, you’ll be hard-pressed to want to even try them another way.
Although now that I think of it, I’m going to add them to my root vegetable soup next time. Or at least use roasted sunchokes as a garnish to it!
DO I NEED TO PEEL SUNCHOKES?
Peeling sunchokes is unnecessary when roasting.
I simply wash them well (scrubbing off any dirt if necessary) before cutting or slicing.
The skin is very thin (thinner even than a potato) and will crisp up nicely in the oven (or pan if pan roasting).
If you choose to enjoy sunchokes raw, you may prefer peeling them.
A note about peeling – if you do decide to peel them, look for sunchokes with as few nubs as possible. The nubs can make it very hard to peel and you end up slicing off sections resulting in waste.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF SUNCHOKES
This is actually my favorite part about this weird vegetable and what turned me onto them to begin with!
Sunchokes are one of the best sources of prebiotic fiber.
Well, to back up for a second, they’re actually first and foremost a resistant starch. Resistant starches then act as a prebiotic.
And prebiotic fiber (in this case, inulin in particular) is what the good bacteria in our gut feeds upon.
When we consume prebiotic fibers like sunchokes (other prebiotic rich plant sources include artichokes, asparagus and jicama), our friendly gut bugs feast upon it and produce short chain fatty acids.
Particularly one named butyrate.
SCFAs like butyrate provide a slew of benefits to us but in particular, have been shown to prevent leaky gut, speed up metabolism, decrease inflammation, and even improve stress resistance.
Besides their prebiotic fame, sunchokes are also a great source of iron and potassium.
They’ve also been loved in the low-carb and/or low-calorie crowd for some time as a good potato/root vegetable alternative.
Of all the root vegetables, they are definitely on the lower end of the calorie and carbohydrate spectrum.
ENJOYING THIS ROASTED SUNCHOKE FENNEL SALAD
Texture is king in this simple salad. Between the crunchy fennel and the crispy roasted sunchokes, your mouth won’t be bored!
From a taste perspective, the flavors are bright, refreshing and tangy (thanks to the dressing) with a slight undertone of nuttiness.
I love the garnish of flaky sea salt to pull everything together.
This salad is great as a light lunch. But also delicious with some crispy tofu (air fried tofu would be perfect for this) or a grilled protein of your choice.
To keep things vegetarian, you could add some white beans for protein (and even more fiber!) as they’d go well with the salad ingredients.
MEALS TO SERVE WITH THIS ROASTED SUNCHOKE SALAD:
Roasted Sunchoke Salad
- 1 pound sunchokes jerusalem artichokes, washed well and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 bulb fennel thinly sliced (white bulb and green stems)
- 1 packed cup baby arugula and/or watercress
For the dressing
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1/2 -1 teaspoon honey
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°F using a convection roast setting if your oven is equipped with it.
- In a large bowl, toss the sliced sunchokes, avocado oil, salt and pepper together until well combined.
- Spread the sunchokes out onto a baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes until golden brown around the edges and crispy.
- While sunchokes roast, make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a jar or small bowl. Shake or whisk until well combined.
- When sunchokes are done roasting, add to a large bowl with the fennel and greens. Pour the dressing into the bowl and toss everything together until mixed well. Serve and enjoy!
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.
Gina Matsoukas is the writer, founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients as much as possible. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.