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All choked up

(article, Ashley Griffin Gartland)

The pickup: Jerusalem artichokes, also known as sunchokes, are pretty darn ugly. But after tasting these knobby, gnarled roots at a cooking class last winter, I decided that their appearance is deceiving. 

[%image feed-image float=left width=300 credit="Photo courtesy Ashley Griffin" caption="Sunchokes may not look promising, but they're quite versatile."]

Sunchokes are actually a type of sunflower whose flavor closely resembles jicama or water chestnut. They're a great source of inulin (a carbohydrate linked with good intestinal health) and are high in vitamin C, potassium, and iron. 

The results: I bought a pound of sunchokes at a local grocery store and pulled out the recipe packet from my cooking class. Jerusalem artichokes are commonly puréed into a thick, creamy soup. But they're also delicious when fried into latkes. Their simple taste makes them very versatile.

The roots didn't need to be peeled, so I started by scrubbing them and grating them into coarse shreds. I then mixed in salt, onion, eggs, and breadcrumbs before forming the cakes with my hands. Then I fried the cakes until they were golden and crisp.

Sunchoke latkes are a perfect addition to a hearty holiday brunch spread. But as I've learned, they're quite satisfying all on their own.

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