These are probably the least common of the vegetables in our share this week. Sunchokes are the starchy tuber of a sunflower relative, with a taste between an artichoke and a potato, and a texture between a water chestnut and a potato. They can be eaten raw or cooked, peeled or unpeeled. These guys are pretty dirty because they were just dug up on Saturday, so give them a good scrubbing in a sink full of water before doing anything else with them. Store them in a cool, dry place, or in the vegetable drawer of your fridge wrapped in paper towels and plastic. They should keep for 2-3 weeks.
My go-to way of preparing a root vegetable that I’m unfamiliar with? Roasting with other root vegetables. And we have parsnips in the share this week as well. Chop them up into a casserole dish, throw in a quartered onion, some chopped celery, maybe a beet, sweet potato, or carrots, then drizzle with plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper, and herbs of your choice. Add a cup or so of stock (or water or beer), cover in foil, and roast @325 until everything is soft and slightly caramelized (between 1 and 2 hours, depending on how much is in your dish).
Sliced sunchokes can be used to make a gratin (just substitute the chokes for the potatoes in your favorite recipe). The spinach and chard we received this week would go great in this. You can also deepfry the slices to make sunchoke chips.
Lightly (15 minutes) boiled sunchokes, pureed, can be added to a soup as a thickener. Or make a variation on potato soup using your sunchokes. Or mash them with potatoes, carrots, or parsnips to make an interesting variation on mashed potatoes.
If in doubt on recipes, go to the web!
About.com has the best synopsis of the roots I found, but if you come across something truly fantastic please share it via the comments.
A word of warning: Some people don’t process the starch in this tuber, inulin, all that well. If you haven’t eaten sunchokes before, don’t overdo it with your first meal. You could get a gassy bellyache.