There’s usually a reason why popular vegetables are popular, and ones nobody has ever heard of are ones nobody has ever heard of.
If you were starving celeriac wouldn’t make it into the garden – five months to harvest a root the size of a beet from a plant that takes five times as much room. If you were broke celeriac wouldn’t make it into the garden – an ugly knobbly hairy root that can’t be cleaned up for sale without the cut surfaces oxidising. If you were on subsistence rations celeriac wouldn’t make it into the garden – even though it’s loaded with good fibre and minerals, it is only about a third of the kJ of potatoes. But hey, I have enough time and space, I’ve learned not to judge a vegetable by its cover, and I’m not in any great need of calories!
I plant celeriac same time as celery, from early autumn till mid-winter. They both have a long slow start, the plants staying small and very vulnerable to drying out for a couple of months. So it is May before the first of them get out of the shadehouse and into the garden and August before the first harvest. Those late winter harvests go wonderfully well as mash with stews and caseroles – a mild creamy sweet flavour perfect for soaking up rich sauces.
These ones were the last of the harvest, cleared out of a bed that the chooks will be going into this week. This time of year they are either julienned into slaw with cabbage and carrot and roasted pecans and homemade mayonnaise. Or made into latkes like this.
This makes eight latkes.
Celeriac oxidises (like potatoes) once it is cut, so you can’t do any of this ahead of time.
- Finely chop a good handful of parsley (or you could substitute dill or fennel).
- Finely dice a small onion or a spring onion (greens and all)
- Put them in a bowl and add salt, pepper, two eggs and a small handful of plain wholemeal flour (or you could substitute besan or polenta or semolina).
- Peel and grate two celeriacs and add to the bowl. Use your hands to squish it all together.
- Heat up a pan with a couple of centimetres of oil till quite hot, then drop in balls of the celeriac mix and flatten them with the back of a spatula.
- Fry until golden both sides.
The flavour of celeriac is delicate and creamy and sweet, so to my taste they are best just on their own with a side salad, but a yoghurt or sour cream based sauce is ok too.