My sunchoke gratin has lentils and black walnuts layered in a creamy Jarlsberg sauce. I’m sure the sunchokes have you raising your eyebrows, but I bet the lentils and black walnuts have you scratching your head. This is not your mother’s scalloped potatoes.
Or is it? Despite the unexpected ingredients this is a simple dish, suitable for a weeknight dinner. Which is exactly when my mother made scalloped potatoes.
This sunchoke gratin sits nicely next to roasted meats. Add something green to the plate and a hearty, cool weather dinner is done. Yes, there’s butter, cheese and cream in this– but not that much. This is a gratin suited to my Southern California lifestyle.
To me gratins fall into 2 camps, or maybe I should say regions. Regions of France that is. Your mother (and mine) may have called them scalloped potatoes but scalloped potatoes are really just potato gratin. Generally speaking the gratins of Northern France (where the weather is often cold and blustery) are far hardier than the gratins typically found in the warmer Southern regions of France. In the North recipes will generally have more cheese (and often egg) than what I’ve presented here. As I said mine is more of a Provençal preparation, suited to my Southern California plate.
Which isn’t to say this sunchoke gratin is traditional in any way.
Sunchoke Gratin with Jarlsberg, Lentils & Black Walnuts
First off there’s no potato in it. It’s made with sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem artichokes). Sunchokes aren’t typical in French cooking (North or South). Sunchokes are native to North America and are known to botanists as Helianthus tuberosus. They are the tubers from a type of perennial aster that looks like a small sunflower.
Also there is the fact that I’ve included lentils and walnuts. I don’t know about your mom, but mom’s scalloped potatoes were decidedly lentil-less. GREG