The best latkes are crisped until just brown and perfectly salted, with an oily shimmered top that gives way to a soft center. They are traditionally made with grated potatoes or sometimes vegetables, and topped with a complementary sauce.
But the best latke is really one made just the way you like it, so don’t be afraid to punch things up and try a new recipe this Hanukkah. Here are five latke recipes that break away from tradition just enough to be exciting.
Cauliflower Latkes: Spices and Seasons
½ medium head of cauliflower (about ¾ pound), cut into florettes
Salt to taste
Plenty of freshly ground black pepper
1 medium sized red or white onion, very finely chopped
11/2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
2 eggs, beaten
¾ cup matzo meal
2 tablespoons grated sharp cheddar (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley or cilantro
Oil for Frying
Cook the cauliflower in plenty of water until tender crisp (about 7 minutes)
Cook and drain thoroughly, mash or process until finely chopped, but with some texture, if using the food processor, pulse a few times.
Place in a mixing bowl and add salt and pepper onions and garlic. Beat the eggs and add in with the matzo meal and the cheddar (if using) and parsley.
Heat the oil in a skillet (about 1 inch in depth), carefully shape and add the cauliflower mixture in medium sized flattened spoonfuls. This batter is a little delicate to work with, the key is to ensure the oil is well heated and once spread let the batter cook uninterrupted for 3 minutes before turning.
Cook on the other side for another 3 minutes and serve hot.
4 potatoes (russet or Yukon gold varieties)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup finely chopped green garlic (bulbs and tender greens)
½ teaspoon red cayenne pepper (optional)
3 tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
Oil for frying
Smoked salmon (about 2 oz)
2 tablespoons (about 11/2 oz) goat cheese
Peel the potatoes and shred them using a grater (if pressed for time, you can use a food processor)
Set the potato aside in a colander add in the salt for about 15 minutes (if you have time, do it for at least half an hour). Squeeze out any excess water.
Place the potatoes in a mixing bowl and add in the green garlic and mix well. Add in the cayenne pepper if using and mix in the onion and garlic.
Beat the eggs and mix well.
Heat the oil (1 inch deep) in a skillet. Shape the potato mixture into flat 1 or 2 inch pancakes and place into the oil. Let them cook undisturbed on medium low heat for about 3 to 4 minutes and turn the pancake over. The cooked side should be crisp and golden brown.
While the second side is cooking, place a small amount of smoked salmon and a dollop of goat cheese over the crisp side. This should be enough to warm the salmon through.
Let the second side cook for another 3 minutes. Carefully remove and place on paper towels to drain and serve hot.
3 large carrots, peeled
1 large apple, honeycrisp or gala
1 small onion
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup matzo meal or all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
Grate carrots, onions and apples, and toss to combine.
Place mixture in a cheesecloth and squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible. Return carrot mixture to bowl and add egg, matzo meal, salt and pepper.
Line a baking pan with paper towels and set aside. Heat a large skillet with about ¼ inch of vegetable oil over medium-high heat until hot.
Shape small patties with the carrots/apple mixture and drop them into the oil. Cook the pancake until golden brown and crisp, about 3-4 minutes per side.
Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels.
Serve immediately with side of hummus for dipping. Latkes can be reheated in oven at 350 degrees.
2 medium zucchini, or a mix of zucchini and other summer squash
1 tsp + 1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 flax egg (1 tbs of ground flax + 3 tbs of water, mixed and left to stand for 5 minutes)
1/4 cup flour
2 tbs minced cilantro or chives
ground black pepper (2-3 twists of the mill)
1/2 tbs tapioca starch
oil for frying
Grate the zucchini/summer squash, and toss with 1 tsp salt, and allow to drain in a colander for 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes, squeeze out additional water with a clean dishtowel.
Add grated and drained squash to a bowl with the remainder of the ingredients, except oil.
Preheat oil for frying.
Shape fritters in your hands by squeezing them into flat discs, like pancakes.
Fry 2-3 minutes each side.
Serve with dipping sauce of choice; I like vegan mayo mixed with sriracha.
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup finely chopped dried cranberries
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 small sugar pumpkin, peeled, seeded and shredded (about 3 cups)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Toasted pecans, to garnish
In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, cranberries, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Set aside.
In a medium skillet over medium, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the onion and cook until very tender and well browned, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the onion (reserving the skillet) to a medium bowl and mix in the shredded pumpkin, eggs, flour, salt and black pepper.
Wipe out the skillet used to cook the onions. Return it to medium-high heat and add a 1 / 4inch of vegetable oil. Working in batches, scoop the pumpkin mixture by the heaping tablespoonful into the pan, 3 or 4 scoops at a time. Flatten each scoop with the back of the spatula and cook until browned on both sides and tender at the center, about 3 minutes per side.
Transfer to a wire rack set over a baking sheet to drain. Serve topped with the cranberry sour cream and garnished with toasted pecans.