Carrot & Sunchoke Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

by Matt on February 3, 2013

Carrot & Sunchoke Salad

I’m perhaps one of the most happy-go-lucky kind of guys when it comes to food. I eat everything, enjoy a wide variety of foods, and can find something to eat just about anywhere I am. This ease disappears when I talk about pizza and my world view becomes nothing short of black and white. But only with pizza. Stay with me here.

I will eat the fanciest of hamburgers. I will eat the trashiest of hamburgers. In this case, I like the high brow and I can get down with the low brow, too. But pizzas? Forget it. I’ve spent half of my life consuming gummy, bready, greasy, gross pizza and I just won’t do it anymore. In fact, I haven’t in twenty years or so. Because once you taste a Neapolitan-style pizza (my personal benchmark) it’s hard to go backwards. There’s a balance of ingredients, a simplicity in its construction, and to me it gets no better.

My apologies to my Chicago deep-dish pizza loving’ friends. I’m really mean that.

Anyway, when I tend to find my idea of pizza perfection I will visit regularly. It could be a bakery in Rome, a take-away window in NYC, or in this case my local pizza place in Long Beach called Michael’s Pizzeria. I’ve written about it before, and it’s one of my standard go-to places here in town. And for the longest time I refused to veer from their margherita pizza.

But one day a salad on the menu caught my eye, and now it seems to be the only thing I want to eat (in addition to my pizza). Picture this: winter root vegetables, pancetta, roasted pumpkin seeds and herb buttermilk dressing. It’s clean, flavorful, crunchy,  with a fantastic balance between the sweet & earthy and the tangy and salty.

Salad Collage

My attempts to recreate this salad at home (I’m sure they’re sick of me at the restaurant) were met with delicious success. And honestly, it couldn’t be easier to do, because if you can boil water then you’ve got it made. And while it’s based on winter root vegetables like parsnips and carrots, you could use just about anything, really. In my case they were gorgeous carrots from the farmers market, sunchokes sliced thin with a mandolin, purple shaved brussels sprouts and a delicious tangy, flavorful buttermilk dressing with fresh oregano, garlic and onions. Oh, and a tiny bit of lemon juice, too.


There are no exact measurements, and there’s no cooking as the ingredients are raw, excluding a super quick blanch of the carrots. But you wouldn’t have to if you didn’t want to. This salad is a fantastic snack or a simple start to an easy supper, and goes great with thin, restrained, quick pizzas. ahem.

Carrot & Sunshoke Salad With Herb Buttermilk Dressing
based on Michael’s PIzzeria’s Insalata Invernale.

Baby carrots, whole
A few sunchokes, sliced super thin
Brussels sprouts, sliced super thin
Pumpkin seeds, optional

Buttermilk Dressing
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
1 small clove of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped onion
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse and scrub clean the sunchokes, then slice paper thin. I used a mandolin for uniformity. Slice the brussels sprouts as well, but it’s ok if the outer leaves fall off as you’ll want to use those as well. Quickly blanch the carrots by placing them in boiling water for a minute or two. Don’t overcook them as you want them to remain crunchy. Once cooked, add the carrots, sunchoke and brussels sprouts slices to a large bowl.

For the dressing: combine all the dressing ingredients in a blender and process until fully incorporated. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Toss the vegetables with the buttermilk dressing, a little bit at a time to make sure they’re covered evenly, but hey, don’t go overboard and make this a big old gloppy, swimming mess, ok?

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Whitney @ The Newlywed Chefs February 3, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Sunchokes! Delicious! Matt this salad looks absolutely fabulous and I can’t wait to try it soon.

Averie @ Averie Cooks February 3, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Sunchokes, brussles, sunflower seeds…all drenched in homemade buttermilk sounds amazing. And I know you’ve mentioned Michael’s before – it must be THAT good. I love the bowl you used in this post, too!

Tasha February 3, 2013 at 6:59 pm

This sounds delicious, and I’m heading to my farmer’s market to find sunchokes. But tell me about the serving bowl — it’s beautiful!

Murissa @The Wanderfull Traveler February 4, 2013 at 11:56 am

Sounds like a delicious salad to try out before winter is out. I am in need of some lighter dishes right now.
The colours scream winter but the brightness of the carrot tips remind me that spring isn’t too far away (fingers crossed).

Abbe@This is How I Cook February 4, 2013 at 12:20 pm

The salad sounds fabulous and I’m a fan of a good buttermilk dressing. But I’ve been wanting to try sunchokes so this will get me to the grocery to fetch them. Thanks!

Gerry @ Foodness Gracious February 4, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Oh man! I love Michael’s, my wife and I always visit them when we can persuade someone to babysit for us :) The food is stellar as is the pizza, my go to is the speck.

Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence February 4, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Love this! And you’ve managed to find the most gorgeous produce for your photos. I’ve never even seen a purple brussels sprout!

Culinary USA February 4, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Wow this is one wild looking salad. I bet it tastes as good as it looks. I will def be putting this in my salad recipe bookmarks!

Chef Ed Matthews February 5, 2013 at 6:51 am

Matt, how do you keep the sunchokes from browning? Ours start browning immediately and so fast that we can’t even shoot photos of them without bathing them first in acidulated water.

Matt February 5, 2013 at 7:57 am

Hi Chef! They browned a bit as they sat after rinsing and scrubbing and I thought I’d have to move quickly before the slices darkened. However, they stayed bright white for a bit without turning, not sure why. After tossing I think the acid in the dressing slowed it down as well.

Matt February 5, 2013 at 7:58 am

Thank you Brandon!

Jeff @ Cheeseburger February 5, 2013 at 11:01 pm

This salad will be perfect as a healthy afternoon snack.

Vicki Archer February 6, 2013 at 8:36 am

Delicious Matt… I could eat my way through this one right now… :) xv

Michael February 7, 2013 at 11:13 am

Oh, sweet! Something to do with my rainbow carrots. Thanks!

Erin February 11, 2013 at 2:29 am

Hi Matt,

Lovely photos. I have found you via David Lebovitz. I have been trying really hard to imporove the photography on my blog- will definitely be buying your book!



Erin February 11, 2013 at 2:30 am

Hi Matt,

Lovely photos. I have found you via David Lebovitz. I have been trying really hard to improve the photography on my blog- will definitely be buying your book!



Kiran @ February 25, 2013 at 9:59 pm

I’ve never had sunchokes before — intrigued!! Gorgeous styling and lighting, Matt :)

Sarah March 4, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Before I even read a word of this blog post, I was inspired by the picture! It is so warm and inviting–and that’s not something that can usually be said about a salad! I can’t wait for my next farmer’s market outing, so I can find ingredients that are inspiringly simple as this!

After I stopped drooling over the picture, I did end up reading the blog post too :)

Graham Davis March 6, 2013 at 5:22 am

Fabulous photographs Matt, never mind the taste!

I have started a small scale publishing company in order to bring long neglected cookery books back to life as updated editions for iPad.

These are the sort of books that Beryl Patmore from Downton Abbey would have had on her kitchen bookshelf and I would really appreciate your opinion on the three books that we have completed so far. Samples are available to download at iBooks as follows:

I have also started the Cookery Heritage blog to which I hope your readers will contribute.

Andy March 12, 2013 at 5:31 am

The salad looks great! Never tried using sunchoke for salad :)

Food Service Warehouse May 20, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Wow, I love salads and go out of my way to try new ones but I’ve never seen one like this, I’m looking forward to when I have the opportunity to make this one!

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