Mother Nature in winter can be a harsh mistress, not least because of the abbreviated vegetable selection that she doth giveth. And giveth. The strawberry or the fresh pea season begins and ends before you have time to harvest them, but your root vegetables - I'm looking at you, turnips, swedes/rutabagas, parsnips, carrots and celeriac - mock you week after week, making you feel you're imagining the days growing lighter and the weather warmer since the winter vegetables show no sign of halting their assault.
It's about February time that we start growing tired of mash in all its forms (parsnip and potato, celeriac and potato, carrot and potato...you get the idea) and another batch of roast vegetables or a giant stew stops being able to satisfy. Looking through the blog world to find inspiration for what to do with a spare khol rabi and celeriac, I found this recipe for a rosti using both ingredients. Mr A&N was beyond skeptical, not being a big fan of the khol rabi to begin with, but his opinion was transformed with the first bite. They were nutty and comforting, and just a little bit naughty because of the pan frying. Perfect winter food.
Since then, we've been coming up with lots of variations on that theme, all using our unloved winter vegetables left over at the end of the week. We've found that potato versions (where potato is the primary vegetable) crisp up the best, and that a combination of oat and cornmeal, put through the blender until it is smooth, brings that slightly nutty flavor to the pancakes that we both found so comforting. A recipe with about as many variations as it has name, in fact. So call it a rosti, call it a latke, make do with thinking of it as a hash brown, it's a great method of bring a bit of life back to the winter vegetables.
Winter Hash Brown/Latke/Rosti
makes around 10-12 fritters
- about 1 lb of grated vegetables (potato, celeriac, parsnip, swede/rutabaga, khol rabi)
- 1 large egg for binding it all together
- 1/2 C / 60g flour (you can get interesting with your flour, and add in some oats, cornmeal, etc to a blender and whizz it until it's flour consistency and add it to/have it take the place of the normal wheat flour)
- salt and pepper
- olive oil for frying
- Grate your vegetables, either using a blender or the large grating section on your grater
- If using potato, be sure to drain it of excess water by squeezing the grated potato out. Since the potato may go brown in the mean time, you can add a squirt of lemon juice to the gratings to prevent this (if the browness offends you).
- Mix in the egg and flour, and a bit of salt and pepper, stirring it all well.
- Heat some olive oil in a pan - if you want to be a bit naughty, add enough so you'll be shallow frying the pancakes. Otherwise, add just enough so the pancakes don't stick.
- Shape the mixture into patties between your hands. Try to get them as flat as you can (though they can be flattened further in the pan).
- Add the to the pan, not shifting them until they're cooked half way through (5 minutes or so, depending on how large or thick they are).
- Turn over, adding a touch more oil to the pan if needed.
- Serve warm, with dinner if you're in need to starch, or with breakfast if you're in need of a treat. Mixture can be kept in the fridge for 24 hours if you want to make some more for another meal.