If you're not a big sunchoke fan, it's probably only because you haven't tried them yet. The knobby, gnarly, thin-skinned tubers, also misleadingly called Jerusalem artichokes (they're not artichokes and have nothing to do with Jerusalem), offer beguilingly nutty, sweet flavor, and they are about to hit midseason form.

"Sunchokes are one of those wonderful things home cooks aren't familiar with yet," says Scott Crawford, chef-owner of the farm-focused Standard Foods, a restaurant and grocery in Raleigh, North Carolina. "You don't see them in supermarkets a lot." But they're a darling of cold-season farmers' markets and regularly stocked by gourmet grocers as well.

"They're incredibly versatile," Crawford says. Indeed, they're fantastic roasted, pickled, mashed, smashed, and twice-baked. You can enjoy them in all the same contexts you'd use for any root veggies. "A pureed soup is always a gateway," he says. "You can put an unfamiliar root vegetable like this in a simple pureed soup to explore all of its flavor possibilities."

Crawford's salad, too, can be a gateway dish that leads to a positively addictive relationship with the little knobs. He leaves the sunchokes unpeeled to take advantage of how delightfully crisp the papery skin gets when baked. He pairs them with crunchy apples, protein-packed smoked trout (he cures and smokes his own at Standard Foods), and a sweet-tart cider vinaigrette.

In the end, the components combine for a simple salad that elevates the underground sunchoke and delivers deep pleasure. "Warming one's soul with a salad is a neat thing," he says. "You can get that with the right flavor combinations." Try Crawford's original version in January at Standard Foods.

Ingredients3 tablespoons olive oil, divided3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided2 pounds sunchokes, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices1/4 cup chopped fresh dill1 tablespoon chopped shallots2 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider2 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar1 cup halved, cored, and thinly sliced Granny Smith apples1 cup halved, cored, and thinly sliced Honeycrisp apples6 ounces skinned smoked trout, broken into 1/2-inch pieces2 tablespoons sliced fresh basil

Directions1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Combine 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and sunchokes in a large bowl; toss to coat. Spread sunchokes, cut sides down, on a baking sheet; bake at 400° for 25 minutes or just until tender and golden. Cool completely.

3. Combine dill, shallots, apple cider, cider vinegar, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Add apples and sunchokes; toss gently. Place on a serving plate. Top with trout and basil.

SERVES 6 (serving size: 1 cup salad and 2 ounces trout)CALORIES 288; FAT 9.5g (sat 1.7g, mono 4.9g, poly 0.8g); PROTEIN 11g; CARB 42g; FIBER 4g; SUGARS 26g (est. added sugars 0g); CHOL 8mg; IRON 6mg; SODIUM 550mg; CALC 37mg

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