‘Vegetarian’ isn’t a word that springs to mind when you think of traditional Yorkshire food, but there’s plenty for non meat eaters to tuck into if you have a rummage around. I think that these vegetarian stilton, walnut and celery fritters might be my favourite so far.
I came across the recipe for the fritters in Joan Poulson’s excellent Yorkshire Cookery (1979), and she credits The Black Swan Hotel, Helmsley, for giving it to her. 40 years later, I don’t see these fritters on their menu so you’re probably just going to have to make them yourself.
Celery and walnuts are a classic pairing, most obviously in a Waldorf Salad. I’ve taken that idea and run with it by pairing these fritters with apple and gem lettuce (as well as pomegranate seeds in place of grapes) in a simple salad. The mustard dressing adds a nice little punch to round the dish out.
Ms Poulson recommends just serving them with some tomato pickle or chutney, though. Having tried them with Yorkshire Grub’s own tomato chutney I can happily second the suggestion if you’re looking for an interesting side dish or starter.
If you’re looking for vegetarian recipes, have a look at the rest of Yorkshire Grub’s veggie selection. It’s actually our busiest category, with recipes ranging from blackberry ketchup to Keighley cheese muffins with perfect poached eggs to the Norse-influenced cake, moggy.
As I said earlier, ‘vegetarian’ isn’t the most obvious description of traditional Yorkshire food. But at its heart, old Yorkshire cooking is about elevating affordable, humble ingredients with simple, workaday cooking. And it doesn’t get much more thrifty than fruit and veg, especially when you work in an agrarian economy.
The old Yorkshire cook’s repertoire included easy veggie wins like cakes and sweet puddings, but there are plenty of other recipes that can be used in vegetarian cooking, like this crusty cheese bake or numerous savoury puddings.
Which is all, I suppose, a slightly roundabout way of saying: more vegetarian food to come!
A quick note on the breadcrumbs coating the fritters – I used sourdough because it came to hand. As sourdough’s a tough bread it blends down to quite chunky breadcrumbs, which created a nice crunchy texture. It’s worth not making your breadcrumbs too fine if you can avoid it. If you can’t, though, don’t worry!