Sunchoke Gratin

Sunchoke Gratin

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

sunchoke gratin

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4-6Source Inspired by Chef Jeremiah TowerPublished
sunchoke gratin

Ingredients

  • ½ cup dried green lentils
  • 1 pinch kosher salt (plus more as needed for boiling and seasoning)
  • ¼ cup chopped black walnuts
  • 1 ½ pound sunchokes (also called Jerusalem artichokes)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 ½ ounce Jarlsberg cheese (grated)
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoon melted butter (plus more for baking dish)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium saucepan cover the lentils with about 1-inch water and bring to a boil. Cover partially and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a pinch of salt and cook until barely tender, about 5 minutes longer. Drain the lentils and spread them on a large baking sheet to cool quickly.

Spread the black walnuts on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Transfer the black walnuts to a paper towel and let cool.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, slice the Jerusalem artichokes crosswise 1/8 inch thick. Add them to the boiling salted water to cook the slices until tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain thoroughly and transfer to a large bowl. Add the cooked lentils, walnuts, cream, cheese, lemon zest and garlic, season with salt and pepper; toss gently. Butter the bottom and sides of a 5 or 6 cup oval baking dish or equivalent. Transfer the Jerusalem artichoke mixture and all its liquid to the buttered dish.

In a medium bowl, toss the breadcrumbs with the melted butter and scatter over the gratin. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the gratin is bubbling and golden brown. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes, then sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

Notes

Make Ahead The gratin can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before baking.