Lately, the weather has been the lackest of lusters with only enough shades of gray to make E L James half-heartedly moan. A pick-me-up was definitely in order and I needed a way to start this literally monotonous day with something oh, I don’t know, spontaneous. So I went to Whole Foods’ produce aisle, found an unlabeled bin and bought a couple of pounds of whatever was in it, which happened to be these funky-looking tubers:
These are sunchokes, also known by their food-porn name, “Jerusalem Artichoke”, which is exotic and misleading as any good porn name should be. These North American nuggets are supposed to taste like a cross between a white potato and an artichoke heart. I’ll be honest and say the young looking batch I got doesn’t taste like much; a delicately sweet vegetal nothing with maybe a little artichoke, but that crunchy, water-chestnutty texture was what I found most appealing. I’m sure it tastes like something when it’s roasted, but I haven’t eaten a raw vegetable in a long time. I also just woke up and can’t apply my entire self, probably because the other parts of me are still sleeping. This is the very sloth I’m trying to combat, but chill out. Baby steps, people.
So let’s talk. Real talk. Golden Eggplant and Sunchoke Salad with Fried Egg Aioli. This dish will get you to stop moping around with sprightly flavors of thyme cutting through the custard-like pan-fried eggplant; tender mache greens pillowing the invigorating crunch of shaved sunchoke; and a generous amount of unctuous aioli to remind you this is my day I’m starting. But it could be yours, too.
Golden Eggplant and Sunchoke Salad with Fried Egg Aioli
Golden Eggplant with Thyme and Honey
Adapted from Sommer Collier of A Spicy Perspective
- 1 medium eggplant
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, picked
Peel the eggplant and slice it into thin 1/2 inch rounds. Place the eggplant slices in a container and pour the milk over it. Weigh down to fully submerge eggplant and allow to chill in enemy territory overnight.
In a shallow bowl, mix the flour with about a teaspoon of salt. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, dredge a few slices of eggplant in the flour and tap off the excess. Place them in the skillet and pan fry for 2 minutes per side. Remove and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain oil off and sprinkle with salt while hot. Repeat until you run out of stuff to fry.
Serve warm, drizzled with honey and sprinkled with thyme.
Sunchoke and Goat Cheese Salad with Broken Lemon Vinaigrette
- 1-2 knobs sunchokes
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 ounces olive oil
- 2 cups mache greens, washed and drained
- 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled into ½ inch pieces
- 1 ounce sunflower seeds
Wash sunchokes and remove any debris. Using a mandolin, slice sunchokes on thinnest setting. In a large bowl, combine sunchokes, lemon juice and olive oil. Toss lazily and set aside.
In a small pan over dry medium heat, toast sunflower seeds until they are golden brown, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from pan, finely chop half of them and set aside to cool. Once cooled, transfer seed mixture to a shallow dish and spread in an even layer. Roll goat cheese haphazardly in seeds while you struggle to stay awake and set aside.
Before serving, add mache greens to sunchokes and toss in remaining vinaigrette. Add salt to taste. Top with goat cheese and more sunflower seeds. Call it a day.
Fried Egg Aioli
Yields 1 cup
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup olive oil
Bring a small pan to medium-high heat. Pan-fry eggs in 2 tablespoons of oil until whites become opaque and edges begin to brown. Salt and pepper to taste.
While still hot, transfer eggs and residual oil to food processor/blender. Begin blending and gradually stream in oil until mixture is nappant, or thick enough to coat the back of a spoon evenly. Transfer to an airtight container and chill in fridge, where it will keep up to 2 days.