The sunchoke, or jerusalem artichoke, is an early spring vegetable that is easy to grow at home. They're in the sunflower family, so are tall with cheery yellow flowers in summer. Perfect for a fence or border.
Sunchokes are root vegetables, in the same family as potatoes, yams, and oca. Roots can be dug up and used in autumn, or in early spring when the soil becomes workable again. Overwintering under a protective layer of soil makes them even nuttier and sweeter. (You'll want to leave those you don't use in the fall in the ground: they do not store well once harvested.)
These roots can be eaten raw, like a flavorful water chestnut. They can also be steamed, fried, or baked, but cook them for a short amount of time to avoid mushiness.
The very best thing about sunchokes is that they are perennial vegetables. That means they'll come back year after year. With a little care, you'll have tender, crisp roots to eat before any plants are budding in spring.
I just had some from my yard for dinner, in my own version of colcannon.