A Jerusalem artichoke is a knobby root vegetable that looks like it could be the love child of ginger and a potato. It’s easy to pass by in the produce section, but deserves a second look.
The tuber, also called sunchoke or earth apple, is part of the sunflower family and can be steamed and pureed, roasted or fried, pickled or mashed or even eaten raw in a salad. Nutty and earthy, delicious tossed in with a chicken as it roasts: Jerusalem artichokes soak up all the flavors.
This time of year, I like to roast them with pears and serve with a smear of crème fraiche or fresh Italian burrata cheese and a kick of harissa, a hot chile pepper paste, or something more herb-packed, like zhoug or chimichurri. If you want to amp up the flavors even more, try a flavored olive oil like Global Gardens’ blood orange olive oil and toss in some fresh orange segments or a few olives and toasted Marcona almonds.
Roasted Jerusalem artichokes and pears with harissa and crème fraîche
Makes 4 to 6 servings as a first course or side dish
1 3/4 to 2 pounds Jerusalem artichokes
3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1 pound pears (3 to 4 pears), cores removed; cut in quarters lengthwise
1/2 cup crème fraiche or 8 ounces fresh burrata or mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons harissa or chimichurri
Optional garnishes: Lemon wedges, olives, toasted nuts; finishing salt, such as Alaska sea salt flakes or Maldon flake salt
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scrub artichokes well, getting into and around the ridges; pat dry. Cut into halves or quarters, depending on size; try to cut into similar-shaped pieces so they cook evenly. Place in a single layer on a sheet pan or in a large cast-iron skillet and toss with olive oil to coat pieces; season with salt and pepper. Roast 35 minutes. Stir artichokes and add pears; roast another 10 to 12 minutes until artichokes and pears are tender when pierced with a fork.
2. Using the back of a large spoon, spread a layer of crème fraiche, if using, onto a serving platter and dot with harissa. If using burrata, tear into pieces and place on platter and dot with harissa. Top with roasted artichokes and pears, a drizzle of good olive oil and some finishing salt.