The celery root in this recipe is a departure form the standard potato latke, but it gives this hors d’oeuvre a hint of celery flavor. To make the latkes, combine shredded celery root with onion, eggs, and matzo meal, form the mixture into little patties, and fry in shallow oil until crispy on the outside and creamy in the center. Top the latkes with mustard- or horseradish-flavored mayonnaise, smoky pastrami, and dill pickles. These addictive appetizers will be the first snack to disappear at your next party!

What to buy: Deli-counter pastrami will work fine here, but you can cure, smoke, and steam your own if you’re up for the challenge.

This recipe was featured as part of our How to Make Oven-Smoked Pastrami project.

  • Yields: About 20 latkes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 50 mins

Ingredients (12)

For the latkes:

  • 2 1/2 pounds celery root, trimmed and peeled (about 4 medium celery roots)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup matzo meal
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable oil, for frying

To assemble:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard or prepared horseradish
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces thinly sliced pastrami, at room temperature or warmed
  • 3 kosher dill pickles, thinly sliced on the bias


For the latkes:

  1. Heat the oven to 250°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Set a wire rack over a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. Using the coarse holes on a box grater or the medium-coarse shredding disk of a food processor, shred the celery root and onion and place in a large bowl.
  3. Add the eggs, matzo meal, and measured salt and pepper and stir to combine; set aside.
  4. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until a piece of celery root instantly sizzles when dropped in, about 4 to 5 minutes. Using a 1/4-cup measuring cup, scoop up the celery root mixture, tightly pack it, and carefully drop it into the pan. Repeat until you have 4 mounds. Using a spatula, gently press each mound into a flat disk about 1/2 inch thick. Fry undisturbed until the bottoms of the latkes are golden brown, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Flip and fry until the latkes are golden brown on the other side, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes more.
  5. Transfer the latkes to the rack on the prepared baking sheet, season with salt, and place in the oven to keep warm. Using a slotted spoon, skim and discard any bits of latke remaining in the pan. Repeat frying the remaining celery root mixture 4 latkes at a time until all of the mixture has been used. (Make sure to skim the remaining bits of latke between each batch.)

To assemble:

  1. Place the mayonnaise and mustard or horseradish in a small bowl, season with pepper, and stir to combine.
  2. Spread about 1 teaspoon of the mayonnaise mixture on each latke. Divide the pastrami among the latkes. Top with the pickle slices and serve immediately.