Ode to the Box Grater and Unconventional Latkes

I use my box grater most days. I’ve been grating carrots and rutabagas and making “latkes” with them. I’ve been grating beets and turnips and carrots and making a salad with toasted sesame seeds and a lemony dressing. I’ve been making celery root remoulade the classic French salad of grated raw celery root with a creamy mustardy dressing (though I use Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise). I’ve been making delicata squash pancakes and grated sweet potato and regular potato and parsnip pancakes.

 

I love my food processor and its coarse grating blade too but I’ve reached for the good old box grater more often lately. It’s easy to clean, lives in a central drawer and requires no moving, assembling, or non-human power.

 

And tools aside, these grated concoctions are winners. There’s no better way to enjoy (or get unfamiliar veggies into skeptical tummies small and large) than grating them, mixing them with a light batter and pan-frying them into crisp, spidery pancakes.  Nor is there a better way to put a wintry salad on the table since the grating softens the veggies and enables them to soak up dressings with lots of herbs and acidity.

 

Rutabaga and Carrot “Latkes”

 

This is more template than recipe and it’s not an authentic latke. Be that as it may it’s a great, great way to enjoy winter (especially root) veggies. You can also include or substitute turnips, celery root, sweet potatoes or potatoes. The quantities listed are approximations and can be adjusted based on what you have on hand, your taste, etc. For the below recipe you want about six cups of packed, grated veggie.

 

2 cups grated rutabaga, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater or in a food processor
3 medium carrots, scrubbed and grated on large holes of box grater
½ a medium onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or oregano, mint or chives or about a teaspoon of chopped sage or thyme, fresh or dried) optional
2 eggs
¼ cup flour
½ cup of cream or whole milk
1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup oil for pan-frying
Greek yogurt or sour cream for serving

 

Let the grated veggies rest, sprinkled with a little salt, in a large bowl while you prepare the batter. In a smallish bowl whisk the eggs with the flour and cream, salt and pepper. Squeeze out any excess liquid from the veggies with your hands, a big handful at a time. Return to the bowl; add the onion and herbs and finally the batter. Mix well. Taste for seasoning before you start frying. Under salted latkes are no fun.

 

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Scoop large spoonfuls of the mixture into the hot pan. Flatten each one a bit with a spatula. Leave them alone for a few minutes until the sides start getting crispy and golden. Flip carefully and continue cooking until both sides are nicely browned. Eat hot topped with Greek yogurt or sour cream.

 

The Beauty of Winter Veggies

 

Radicchio from Ayers Creek Farm (at the Hillsdale Market every other Sunday throughout the winter)

 

I recently wrote a gushing post about my love of winter veggies for Culinate. But one post is not enough. I haven’t been to the Hillsdale Farmers Market–one of two year-round markets in the Portland area–for 10 days or so. And I missed the other one, which is right in my neighborhood–the People’s Coop Farmers Market–last week. Both are community treasures. And I will head over to the People’s one this afternoon. My fridge, however, is still packed with baseball bat-sized leeks, dense winter squashes, beets, celery root (celeriac), and radicchio  from my last trip to Hillsdale. No matter what the weather the farmers and other  vendors are there with such a variety of produce that I am still sometimes taken aback at our luck of living in this climate. Though I try to grow kale and some greens throughout the winter with little success, it’s actually only partly the climate and just as much the skill, creativity and determination of our regional farmers that enables these beautiful crops to thrive in our wet, temperate climate.

Winter time cooking is often associated with slow-cooked soups and stews, braised meats and the like. However, it’s also possible to throw together fresh, hearty salads this time of year and they are a nice counterpoint to the richer, sweeter flavors of those stews and roasts.

 

Radicchio, Chickpea, and Chopped Egg Salad

 

Yesterday for lunch (and for my husband’s lunch he took to work), I tossed some of this beautiful radicchio with chopped hard-boiled egg, capers, chickpeas (that I had previously cooked and frozen for just such meals) and a lively dressing of garlic, Dijon, olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper. It was robust, fresh and absolutely delicious.

Happy Cooking and Eating!

Katherine

P.S. My February classes are starting to fill so if you’re interested in the Favorites one or the Rice & Beans from around the World one, sign up online or let me know you’d like a spot. I’ve also just scheduled some lunch-time classes that are going to be loads of fun and shorter and cheaper but with a full meal as usual so check those out as well.