While I’ve never – to my memory – celebrated Hanukkah (although my stepmother owns a menorah which I can remember being lit occasionally and I think I got a hat once as a present), this year I decided to use the holiday as an excuse to try my hand at making latkes. Now of course, because it’s me, I attempted to health-ify them just a little (only in that they’re not completely submerged in oil and deep fried) and make them nontraditional by using a variety of root veggies instead of just potatoes. Root vegetables can be fairly interchangeable in my experience, and adding parsnips, sweet potatoes, and leeks to your latkes bumps up the fiber and Vitamin A content. And the flavor is so much more interesting and complex! I read a few recipes, just trying to get a sense of proportions, and then did this:
Take 1 small baking potato, 1 small sweet potato, and 1 parsnip, peel them, and shred them using a cheese grater. Add 1 tsp of salt to the mix and let it sit for 20 minutes, squeezing out as much moisture as possible afterwards – the regular potato will have the most moisture. Then add to the mixture 1 small grated yellow onion and 1 very finely chopped leek (stopping at the dark green part). Stir in some freshly ground pepper, about 1/3 cup whole wheat flour and about 1/3 cup egg whites. Form into patties – if they fall apart (which mine did at first – a LOT), you need to adjust the amount of egg white and flour until they’re sticky. Generously coat the bottom of a pan with some vegetable oil with a high smoke point (I use safflower or sunflower oil) and heat the oil until very hot. Drop the patties in and cook about 2-3 minutes on each side, then transferring to a baking sheet. You’ll have to do this in stages; just make sure the new oil gets hot enough before adding each round of latkes, otherwise they’ll just soak up the oil and not brown. Once all the latkes are browned, bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes until cooked through. Serve with sour cream (or Greek yogurt, like these) and applesauce. Homemade applesauce is super easy by the way – just peel a few apples, chop them up into very small pieces, and heat on the stove with a touch of water and cinnamon until the consistency is saucy. You can also use an immersion blender if you like smooth applesauce.