Sunchokes from McClendon's Select: This Week's Fresh Pick

After watching an episode or two of any at least semi-professional competitive cooking show, it's likely you've heard the name sunchoke dropped. Also known as the Jerusalem artichoke, this knobby, brown tuber (or thick stem) of a sunflower varietal really doesn't look like a big deal. While culinary-types have been singing the little root's praises, it's still pretty uncommon in home cooking, despite being both versatile and easy to work with. It could easily be mistaken for ginger at first glance, but the nutty, lightly sweet flavor is compared to everything from a potato to an artichoke to a radish.

See Also: How to Start an Organic Farm with Joe Johnston of Agritopia

Price: $8 per pound

Vendor: McClendon's Select

Where to Pick It Up: Town and Country Farmers Market, Open Wednesday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m., Old Town Farmers Market, Open Saturday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.

What Else to Grab: Purple Cauliflower ($4 per pound), Multi-Colored Carrots ($1.50 per pound)

Regardless of what your plans are for your sunchokes, it's important to give them a good rinse before you use them--they are roots after all. While some people prefer to peel the skin off before cooking, chances are if you like the rustic, earthiness potato skins add to a dish, you won't need to do that. From there, use your imagination. Sunchokes work well as a mash, fried as chips, pickled, roasted with root vegetables or pureed with horseradish to make a soup. Its adaptability and unique flavor make it easy to see why chefs love it and since sunchoke season lasts until March, you'll have plenty of opportunities to experiment in your own kitchen.

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Heather Hoch is a music, food, and arts writer based in Tucson. She enjoys soup, scotch, Electric Light Orchestra, and walking her dog, Frodo.
Contact: Heather Hoch