Roasted Sunchokes with Orange, Rosemary, and Pine Nuts


Yesterday was the first day of spring, and here in New York city we got…more snow. Yep, as I am writing this post, I am watching a furious swirl of wet snowflakes covering the oh-so-recently snow-free ground. I can almost hear them: You thought you could get rid of us that easily? <insert evil laugh here>

Nothing describes the absurdity of this winter better than this quote from today’s New York Times: “Snow starts around noon, as temperatures hover just above freezing, and roughs up the evening commute. At 6:46 p.m., spring begins, the snow stops abruptly and twittering robins drape the city with garlands of daffodils.” Steve and I laughed heartily when we read this and then we stopped laughing and each shed a single tear for the loss of our meteorological innocence.

What can I say? Prolonged and brutal winters can make you a little crazy.

So, just give up on the weather and simply eat and drink to your heart’s delight. To help you with that, here’s an easy recipe for an appetizer that you can make with things you can find right now in your grocery store. Sunchokes are also known as Jerusalem artichokes, for reasons that I can’t fathom, since they are closer to potatoes and carrots than artichokes. In any case, they crisp up in the oven really nicely and they pair very well with toasted pine nuts, orange, and rosemary. A hint of balsamic vinegar adds an additional note of acidity and the final dash of aleppo pepper gives it that unexpected smoky heat that draws you in for one more bite. 

DSC03877Roasted Sunchokes with Orange, Rosemary and Pine Nuts

Makes 4 appetizer servings


1/4 cup pine nuts
1 lb sunchokes (jerusalem artichokes), washed and scrubbed clean
2 cloves garlic, peeled and slides in thin slices (about 2mm each)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 orange
2 teaspoons of good balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon aleppo pepper


Preheat the oven to 425°F.

In a sauté pan, toast the pine nuts over medium heat, tossing frequently, until they give off a toasted smell and they just start to turn golden brown. Immediately remove into a plate and allow to cool.

Slice sunchokes crosswise into 1/4″-1/2″ slices. In a large bowl, toss sunchoke slices with the garlic, rosemary, olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Spread on two large baking sheets, so that all sunchoke slices are lying flat on the pan. Make sure that all garlic slices are on top of sunchoke slices, otherwise they will burn. Roast in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, without turning, until the bottoms of the slices turn dark brown, but don’t burn. The tops will stay yellow and become soft.

Meanwhile, peel orange and slice crosswise in four 1/2″ slices (there will be some orange left over). Place each slice in the bottom of an individual serving bowl.

Once sunchokes are roasted, pile them on top of the four orange slices. Top with roasted pine nuts, balsamic vinegar, and aleppo pepper, divided among the four bowls. Serve immediately


Sauteed Eggplant with Balsamic Vinegar

We get quite a lot of food fads in New York. Some are big and national (like kale or ramps). Some are small and local. The last few weeks have revealed one such small and local fad: fairy tale eggplants. No, they don’t turn into a horse-drawn carriage and whisk you away to the palace ball. Nor do they grant you three wishes. They are simply a breed of eggplants that grows really small, somewhere between 1 and 2 inches.


I had never heard of them before until this fall, when suddenly they appeared at the local markets and I started seeing some online chatter about them (like here and here). Steve and I bought some, of course, and had them simply roasted in the oven. I don’t think it was the best preparation for them, but we appreciated their delicate form and sweet taste.


I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with eggplant. I love to eat it but I’ve always hated cooking it. It seemed to me that every single recipe for eggplant called for salting it and draining the water out of it, or for charring it over an barbecue fire, something most New Yorkers can only dream of. Whenever I tried to cook eggplant it always ended undercooked or burned.

So, I generally stayed away from eggplant until I found this recipe. It turns out, you don’t have to go crazy with pre-cooking preparations for eggplant. You can just cook it on the spot, with a combination of sautéing and steaming in a single pan. No salting, no charring, and no draining. Since then, I’ve made this as a side dish countless times. Though I still dream of a barbecue fire where I can char eggplant for some delicious baba ganoush.


Sautéed Eggplant with Balsamic Vinegar – Adapted from

Note: This recipe works best with long and skinny eggplants, such as japanese eggplants. If you have the more traditional thicker dark purple variety, slice it crosswise in 1.5 inch sections.

3-4 japanese eggplants (or other variety, see note above)
1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

Slice eggplants lengthwise in half.  Lightly salt and pepper the slices and heat a sauté pan for which you have a lid over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan, and when it shimmers add eggplant, cut side down. Lower heat to medium and cook, covered, for about 6-7 minutes. Turn eggplant slices cut side up, recover the pan and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes or until eggplant is soft.

Turn the eggplant slices one more time, cut side down. Turn heat off. Immediately add balsamic vinegar in the pan. Cover the pan and shake back and forth for a few seconds. Let it rest, covered for 2-3 minutes, until the vinegar caramelizes a little.

Serve eggplant slices with balsamic vinegar sauce spooned on top and sprinkled with a little flaky sea salt and additional ground pepper.