Get to know sunchokes.

March 29, 2016

Knobby, small and brown, sunchokes (or Jerusalem artichokes) might look like something a troll might have for a snack, but they’re definitely human-appropriate and certainly delicious—we promise. Sweet, nutty and somewhat artichokey, sunchokes are actually a type of sunflower. If you let them blossom, you’ll get a beautiful yellow flower. But it’s not the flower we’re interested—it’s the root, which can be roasted, steamed, pureed into a soup, sliced thin and eaten raw or even distilled into a brandy.

For the moment (and for legal purposes), we’ll leave the distilling to the professionals. But we do have some delicious ideas for how to prepare this spring’s fantastic crop of sunchokes.

1. Sunchoke-Kale Hash with Farro 

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Comfort food is rarely healthy, or vegetarian, but this soul-satisfying hash is both.

2. Sunchoke Salad with Apple-Sunflower-Seed Relish and Olive Puree

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Sweet roasted sunchokes are the focus in chef Matthew Gaudet's salad. He pairs them with an unusual apple-sunflower-seed relish and briny olive puree.

3. Sunchoke and Cauliflower Soup 

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Sunchokes add a wonderfully earthy flavor to sweet cauliflower soup.

4. Roasted Sunchokes with Brown Butter-Cider Vinaigrette 

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A tangy, lush and slightly spicy vinaigrette is delicious on sweet sunchokes and fresh spinach.

5. Roasted Sunchokes with Buttery Bagna Cauda 

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Roasted sunchokes are a great change of pace from the usual crudités served with bagna cauda, the Italian olive oil, garlic and anchovy sauce.

6. Chunky Artichoke and Sunchoke Soup 

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This creamy soup from chef April Bloomfield is simmered with a layer of prosciutto on top, which adds fantastic flavor.

7. Poached Eggs with Sunchokes and Comté Polenta 

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Cheesy polenta mixed with steamed sunchokes, topped with poached eggs, makes for an amazing brunch or dinner.

8. Pickled Jerusalem Artichokes 

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Crunchy pickled sunchokes are great with anything from pork to lamb to shrimp.

9. Triple Sunflower Spread with Crudités Vinaigrette 

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For this spicy, hummus-inspired vegetarian spread, Nicolaus Balla uses the sunflower in three forms: the seeds, the oil and the sweet, crunchy tuber of the sunchoke. The result is an unusual, nutty and luscious spread that's fantastic with fresh vegetables.