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If you visited any farmers' markets in the last three years or so, perhaps you came across these odd, knobby vegetables that slightly resemble ginger. Presumably, baffled by their appearance and with an uncertainty of how to cook with them, it's possible you overlooked them in favor of another fresh find. Can we let you in on a little secret? In that moment, you missed out on scooping up one of the most versatile root veggies that's available to us: sunchokes.
Sunchokes are a tubular-shaped, thin-skinned root vegetable of the sunflower plant family that's in season from late fall through early spring. Often mistakenly referred to as Jerusalem artichokes, sunchokes have no origins in Jerusalem, and they really don't taste like artichokes. If anything, sunchokes can be accurately compared to potatoes, both in how they're grown underground and their earthy flavor profile. But it's possible the mix up between sunchokes and artichokes has more to do with the disenchanting root word they share: “choke.” (Source: www.cookinglight.com)
Sunchokes work nicely in many of the same applications we typically assign to potatoes or carrots. Try cutting them into finger-sized pieces, blanching them for a few minutes in a pot of boiling salted water, then roasting them in a 450°F (230°C) oven until they're soft and creamy inside and crisp outside. Or slice them thinly on a mandoline and fry them in 300°F (150°C) canola oil to make sweet, crunchy sunchips. Daniel uses both roasted and thinly sliced raw sunchokes alongside a rainbow of potatoes and brassicas in this bounteous fall salad. (Source: www.seriouseats.com)
Thanks to their starchy texture, mashed or puréed sunchokes make a more flavorful alternative to traditional mashed potatoes. If you're into the velvety texture of a sunchoke purée, try taking it a step further by browning them in butter and blending them up with leek and sage for Kenji's Brown Butter–Sunchoke Soup. And in the attached recipe, Sho uses a cast iron skillet to squash his 'chokes until they're all over cracks and crevices, à la Kenji's smashed potatoes, then browns them in oil and thyme butter in a hot pan. They're also surprisingly great for pickling, either peeled or unpeeled. (Source: www.seriouseats.com)