In Season: Sunchokes

Also called Jerusalem artichokes, although they are not from the Holy Land and are nothing like artichokes, sunchokes resemble portly ginger covered in bumps. But what these small tubers lack in aesthetics, they make up for with a bright flavor reminiscent of jicama and water chestnuts with a whisper of apple. Sunchokes offer 5 grams of iron per cup, along with a healthy dose of the soluble fiber inulin, which feeds beneficial gut bacteria to aid digestion. Choose only firm sunchokes, and store them in a cool, dry place away from light. You can eat them raw, boiled, roasted, or steamed, peel and all.

Shaved Sunchoke Salad with Maple Syrup Dressing
Using a mandoline or sharp knife, very thinly slice 3 or 4 scrubbed-clean sunchokes, 2 peeled carrots, and 2 peeled medium beets. Place shavings in a medium bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons walnut oil with 1 tablespoon each maple syrup and balsamic vinegar, and a dash of sea salt. Toss maple dressing with vegetables, mix in a handful of dried currants, and serve over spinach or kale.

Grilled Catfish with Sunchoke Purée
Cut 1 pound of sunchokes into 1-inch pieces and place in a pan of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until sunchokes are very tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well; transfer to a food processor with 1 tablespoon melted butter, 1/4 cup milk, and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary. Purée until smooth. Season 2 catfish fillets with salt and pepper; grill over medium heat, about 5 minutes per side or until opaque throughout. Plate catfish and top with sunchoke purée.

Sunchoke Patties
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 2 pounds of sunchokes into evenly sized chunks, and steam or boil until very tender. In a large bowl, mash sunchokes with a potato masher or fork; let cool. Add 2/3 cup whole-grain flour, 4 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon diced fresh mint (or 1 teaspoon dried), 1 teaspoon coriander powder, and salt and pepper to taste; mix well. Form mixture into 8 equal-size patties. Place patties on a baking sheet lined with lightly oiled parchment paper or aluminum foil. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and crisp on both sides.

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