It's in the dead of winter that we home cooks most need to branch out from our everyday recipes and try new ingredients. Once February strikes we're tired of potatoes, done with heads of cauliflower and plain old sick of squash. How many more gratins or pureed soups can we handle?
Well, with two more months before spring fruits and vegetables show themselves on the produce shelves, it's time that we take our gastronomic destinies into our own hands.
If you stopped for a second at the grocery store and took a look around, it's likely that you'd find more than a handful of ingredients which you just never use. Either you've tried them and found the taste (or price) not agreeable, or you just haven't taken the time to explore outside your culinary comfort zone. It's understandable. Some of the produce found on the shelves these days is, simply put, a bit intimidating. But, if these items are available at the grocery store, that must mean somebody is enjoying them -- and that someone could be you too.
During the winter, root vegetables are highly stocked; and so it's definitely the right time to explore some new varieties. Jerusalem artichokes, also known as sunchokes, are a knobbly little root -- similar in appearance to ginger, but with a slightly pink hue. These little root nuggets are a ray of light in the world of tubers. They are nutty, crunchy and taste remarkably similar to the delicious artichoke that shows its head around spring -- but they are available for a much cheaper price.
Another bonus: Jerusalem artichokes are easy to prepare. You can cook them just like you would a potato: roast, boil, saute, bake or steam. You can leave the skin on or peel it off -- up to you. The surprising thing about these little roots is that you can also eat them raw. They add a great texture to salads and stir-frys.
But unlike the potato, they contain little starch and have a nice serving of inulin and vitamin C. So don't pass by these craggily little roots the next time you're at the store. Stock up on them -- your bored winter palate will thank you.
WATCH: How To Cook Jerusalem Artichokes