Recipe: Roasted Leek, Asparagus & Sunchokes with Sun-Dried Tomato & Rosemary Millet "Polenta"

Another week, another successful trip to the Downtown Glendale Farmers Market! Not only did I find plenty of inspiration in the fresh, local, organic produce on display, I also discovered some varieties of produce I’d never seen before, like Shunkyo semi-long radishes, AND I found a grower with organic passionfruit, macadamia nuts, and cherimoya!

Organic asparagus spears from the farmers market

But what really called to me this week was the fat stems of asparagus I saw standing regally in shallow pans of water. I grabbed a small bunch, scooped up a leek, and a big handful of handsome sunchokes in the hopes that I could make an interesting soup. But once I got home, I wanted to be a little more adventurous than that. I don’t play with sunchokes too much; I usually just throw a raw one into my green juices, but I’ve been wanting to roast some for a while now. They get a wonderfully hearty flavor redolent of artichokes, which is why you may also find them labeled as Jerusalem artichokes at the market.

Farmers market sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichokes) with asparagus & leeks

Thinking now about what the heck I wanted to make since soup had been decided against, I remembered two of my favorite breakfasts in recent history… a sunchoke hash and a creamy polenta from this divine restaurant I eat at way too often called SQIRL. I wanted to kind of hybridize the ideas, and so a sunchoke hash of my own was gracefully plopped on top of a polenta of sorts; when I opened my cupboard, I saw millet sitting right next to my cornmeal and I thought it might be fun to use the millet instead since it’s so under-utilized in my opinion. Too bad, too, since it’s a nice source of protein and magnesium. Rather than going heavy with a bunch of cheese and cream, I wanted to keep this polenta simple and less calorie-laden, so I’ve opted to finish it with some nutritional yeast to add a bit of a cheesy taste, plus a little olive oil for flavor and mouthfeel.

Organic sun-dried tomatoes, rosemary, garlic, and millet

Added bonus? This whole recipe cost just over $5 to make, using all organic ingredients. Yet another reason I love shopping at the farmers market and buying pantry items in bulk!

Recipe: Roasted Leek, Asparagus, and Sunchokes with Sun-Dried Tomato & Rosemary Millet “Polenta”

Makes 4 servings

For the roasted vegetables:
1 medium-small leek, white part only
1 bunch thick asparagus
1/2 pound sunchokes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Bragg Liquid Aminos (optional)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

For the millet “polenta”:
1 cup millet
3 to 4 cups water or vegetable broth
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
5 sun-dried tomatoes, diced
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Cayenne pepper (optional)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the green top from your leek. (Don’t throw this away! Toss it into veggie stock or use it in soup!) Peel back the tough outer layer, then carefully cut the leek in half lengthwise. Rinse the leek well, making sure to get any hidden soil out from under all those gorgeous inner layers. Slice the cleaned leeks into 1-inch-wide pieces.

Organic leeks from the farmers market

Remove the fibrous bottom from each asparagus spear by giving them a bend; the woody end will snap off on its own. (Again… waste not, want not! These tough bits are perfect for adding flavor and body to vegetable broth/stock and soups!) Cut trimmed asparagus spears into 1-inch-wide pieces. Slice the sunchokes on the bias so that each sliver is somewhere around 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick. Arrange the leek pieces, asparagus, and sunchokes in a medium-large cast-iron skillet, roasting tray, or other oven-safe pan. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, a few splashes of Bragg Liquid Aminos for added seasoning, and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Cover with foil and place in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and cook uncovered until the veggies are tender throughout, about 15 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Organic asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, and leeks from the farmers market…before, and after…Organic roasted sunchokes, leeks, and asparagus

While the vegetables are roasting, begin working on the millet polenta. In a medium saucepan set over a medium flame, add the millet and allow it to toast, stirring slowly but constantly, until it takes on a golden hue and gives off a pleasant nutty aroma, about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups of the broth along with the garlic, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, bay leaf, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and a touch of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower the heat to where it can maintain a gentle simmer. Cook for 20 minutes. Stir. Replace the cover and continue cooking, stirring every 5 minutes, until the grains are tender, creamy, and nearly all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 more minutes. If the polenta is too thick, feel free to add more stock until the desired consistency is reached. When finished, discard the bay leaf, stir in the nutritional yeast, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Divide the millet between four bowls, top with the roasted veggies, and serve immediately.