Lightening Up The Latke

Lightening Up The Latke

Eat your fruits and vegetables — in the unlikeliest of dishes.

Crispy, hot potato latkes are de rigueur in most households during the eight days of Chanukah. But the dish’s religious traditions lie in its preparation – frying – and not in its main ingredient – potatoes. So why use them at all? This year, spice up your latkes with different flavors and ingredients, and replace the potatoes with other kinds of vegetables, or even fruits.

Leah Schapira, author of the new cookbook “Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking” (Mesorah) and founder of, says her four kids love traditional potato latkes, which she makes “three or four times during the holiday.” But if she’s cooking for a crowd, “then I love to experiment.”

“Sweet potato latkes are great; last year I made zucchini, mushroom and Parmesan latkes that were really, really good,” she says.

And when frying for your family or a crowd, Schapira has the same tip: “You always have to make sure the oil is hot,” and don’t overcrowd the pan with too many latkes, or it will lower the heat. “Really you should start with one, and when that’s done frying I know the oil is hot enough.”

Jamie Geller, cookbook author and editor of the Joy of Kosher magazine, cooks her grandfather’s classic potato latke recipe for her five kids, who love the traditional version.

But because of her work with cookbooks, the magazine and its accompanying website — — she said, “I’m always trying to do different varieties.”

“I’ve done samosa latkes, baked cauliflower latkes, cheddar potato — just about every version,” she said. “I really love savory latkes more than sweet … doing half potato and half parsnip or zucchini latkes, which have no carbs.”

Her newest experiment is to layer latkes with extra toppings for added flavor — “Caprese latke towers… a layer of mozzarella, a leaf or two of fresh basil and a slice of tomato” or “topping them with guacamole and a sunny-side up egg” for a tasty breakfast.

Geller says she uses “canola oil all the way” and concurs with Schapira about not crowding the pan.

“I try not to put in too much oil; about an inch is enough for me,” she said, “and make sure they have time to crisp up around the edges.”

Carrot and Apple Latkes

Courtesy of Jamie Geller’s

4 carrots, peeled and shredded
(about 2 cups)

2 granny smith apples,
peeled and shredded (about 1 cup)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 cup matzah meal

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

4 tablespoons canola or grape seed oil

In a large bowl, combine carrots, apples, lemon juice, matzah meal, egg, ginger and salt. Stir well to combine.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Scoop 1/4 cup of batter and carefully place in oil. Flatten to about 1/2-inch thick with a spatula. Repeat to form four more latkes in your pan, being careful not to crowd the pan, and cook for 4 to 6 minutes. Flip and cook 4 to 6 minutes more or until golden brown on both sides.

Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining batter.

Leek Latkes

Courtesy Leah Schapira’s “Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking”

3 large leeks (or 4 smaller ones), white and light green parts only

water as needed

2 tablespoons oil

4 eggs

1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
or matzah meal


pinch sugar

oil for frying

Cut off the dark green part off the leeks and discard. Slice the leeks in half lengthwise and wash thoroughly. Cut the leek into strips and dice.

Place the leeks into a pot with enough water to cover. Add two tablespoons of oil. Bring to a boil. Drain the leeks very well, pressing out excess water.

Add the eggs, crumbs, salt and sugar. Form the batter into patties.

Pour a thin layer of oil into a skillet over medium heat and bring to a frying temperature. Slip patties into hot oil and fry until browned on one side. Flip patties and brown the other side.

Serve at room temperature or cold.

Samosa Latkes

Courtesy Jamie Geller’s “Quick & Kosher Meals in Minutes”

3 baking potatoes,
peeled and shredded

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 (10-ounce) box frozen peas,

1/4 cup matzah meal

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix potato, onion, peas, matzah meal, eggs, curry powder and salt.

Spray cooking spray into a nonstick sauté pan. Shape 1/4 cup of batter into latkes and brown on each side.

Remove to a sprayed baking sheet and finish cooking in a 350 degree F oven for 15-20 minutes.

Serve with sour cream and chutney.

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