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Celeriac latkes by Lucy Waverman.

Danielle Matar/The Globe and Mail

Hanukkah is very early this year, starting on Dec. 6, and this is my twisted take on latkes with sour cream and applesauce for a festive party.

The versatile celeriac, or celery root, is an under-utilized root vegetable. It has a gnarly, knobby look that is not very appealing, but its taste – like mild celery with a slight nuttiness – and texture are unbeatable in many dishes. (Just be sure, when cooking with it, to cut all of the tough skin off.)

Latkes are usually made with potatoes but I find the celeriac version has more flavour, a better texture and is lower in both calories and carbs. No more guilty feelings about eating 10 of them. And I made these with celeriac and rutabaga for some added sweetness, but all celeriac is just fine.

Story continues below advertisement

For the gluten-free eater, I also tested it with chickpea flour: It was a little more fragile but still had loads of taste. The apple mixture pairs well with both versions, and works well as a condiment for roast chicken and duck.

These are also the perfect appetizer for any party over the holiday season. Just make the latkes smaller. Reheat in 350 F oven for 10 minutes when needed.

Servings: 4

Ready time: 40 minutes

Spiced goat cheese

1 3-ounce (85-gram) package goat cheese

1 teaspoon ground fennel seed

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ cup whipping cream or Greek yogurt

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Apple relish

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup apple-cider vinegar

2 cups chopped, peeled tart apples such as Spy or Granny Smith

Pinch cinnamon (optional)

Celeriac latkes

4 cups grated celeriac (about 1 small celeriac)

2 cups grated rutabaga (about ½ rutabaga)

3 eggs, lightly beaten

¼ cup all-purpose or chickpea flour

Salt and freshly ground pepper

½ cup vegetable oil for frying

Method

Beat goat cheese with fennel seed, cinnamon and whipping cream. Season with salt and pepper. Reserve.

Combine brown sugar and apple-cider vinegar in a pot over medium heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved then bring to a boil. Add apples and cinnamon and return to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until apples are tender and mixture is glossy. Remove from heat to cool.

Combine celeriac and rutabaga in a bowl. Stir in eggs and flour. Season well with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high. Add a heaping ¼ cup of celeriac mixture into oil and press down with a spatula to form about a ¼- to ½-inch thick latke. Repeat with remaining mixture, being careful not to crowd the pan. Fry 2 to 3 minutes per side or until golden and cooked through. Remove to paper towels to drain.

Top latkes with a smear of spiced goat cheese and some apple relish.

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