Monday, 15 August 2011

Yakon, fennel & celery salad

Yakon is up there in one of my top 10 favourite eating experiences. You know those meals that stand out, where food takes on an almost orgasmic experience.  It was the first time I had met 'permaculture raw ' Tania and she came to my house for dinner and introduced me to yakon. She brought this beautiful salad – all from her garden and made with such love. All bitter greens and yakon – I can't even remember what it was dressed in but I had one of those wow moments and instantly
wanted to grow this little root vegetable and eat more of it! My description back then was the same as it is now.  Yakon has the texture of a raw potato and the taste of a mildly sweet, slightly unripe pear, a bit like a nashi. Watery and refreshingly crisp and crunchy!

Finally five years later, a good friend Miranda, gave me some tubers – after a lunch where she too made a delicious yakon salad. I planted these three little sweet potato-looking things in three places in my veggie garden and waited.

When they sprouted I got so excited. They worked! After a while they grew to be as tall as me, with an almost heart shaped leaf, and a beautiful little yellow daisy like flower. Miranda said, once the flowers start to die off, they are ready to harvest. Very carefully Caspar lifted the soil with a pitch fork and filled a box full of white sweet potato looking tubers. I lightly scrubbed the dirt off and a very thin layer of 'brown' looking skin scrubbed away too, revealing a white-ish yakon. 
Then I cut them up and before they oxidised I poured some lemon juice and olive oil over them and added the ingredients below. Deliciously refreshing and crunchy. I hope you can either grow yakon where you live or find it somewhere nearby. You can substitute the yakon for a firm pear or apple or better still, jicama (they are very simmilar but not related) if you can't get yakon where you live. It still works really well.

The salad
2 yakon tubers (approximately 3-4 inches long), diced into little thin fans
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced and chopped
2 long sticks celery, thinly sliced on an angle
1/2 bunch mint, finely chopped
1 lemon, juiced
a few turns of the mill of black pepper
1/2 - 1 tsp himalayan salt (to taste)
1/4 cup olive oil

Served with or on a bed of Rocket or Mixed Salad leaves – it's great with bitter greens as it compliments them so well.

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