Latkes, or potato pancakes, are the quintessential traditional Hanukah food made of shredded potatoes, eggs, bread crumbs/matzo meal, salt, and pepper. They are then fried in oil (some will use olive oil which symbolises the miraculous Hanukah story) which gives them a crispy exterior texture. Like most people, I prefer my latkes ultra–crunchy, perfectly salty, savory from the onion, lacy at the edges and soft in the middle. I don’t particularly fancy anything fried. I will indulge myself from time to time but am not too enthusiastic about the mess and hassle that comes with frying; not to mention the emotional heartache that comes along with it. I don’t feel like burning my good skillet. Oven-baked potato pancakes are a safer,healthier and less hassle alternative for me. I found ways to maintain the tradition that doesn’t involve destroying your frying pan with burnt oil,nor making an oily mess on your stovetop. Flipping fiddly little pancakes in four skillets awash with burning hot oil while the house swarms with hungry adults and their sugar-fueled, manic children is not particularly festive from a cook’s perspective. Even if the kids are old enough to clamor for latkes night after night—or old enough to want to help cook, is all the hassle and clean-up is really a necessary part of the festival of lights? It shouldn’t have to be. Serving one or two batches at once is a miracle onto itself, especially when there are dozens of empty bellies to feed. Plus baking them helps me fight the urge to nibble on them as I normally would when pan frying them. From then on, I embraced a new and healthier tradition in oven baking these vegetable delights. If you are looking for a traditional potato pancake recipe, you are out of luck. All I have for you is a multi-vegetable pancake recipe which seems more exciting to me. Plus people seldom complain about eating too much vegetables and a couple extra never hurt anyone. Carrots and zucchini balance out the starchiness from the potatoes which is why I included them. A dollop of low-fat sour cream, applesauce, and smoked salmon adds a nice finishing touch aside for complementing the flavours of these multi-vegetable pancakes.
For this recipe, you will need:
- 3 red potatoes peeled and grated
- 2 large carrots peeled and grated
- 2 zucchinis grated
- 1 onion peeled and grated
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1/2 cup of matzo meal or bread crumbs (use gluten-free bread crumbs for a gluten free version)
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
- Salt and pepper for taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. After grating the vegetables, drain excess water using paper towels. Transfer to a shallow bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Drop pancake/latke mixture by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. For mini-latkes, use a teaspoon. Flatten with back of spoon, slightly, so that latkes will be cooked through. Brush each patty with oil or spray with cooking spray.
Bake uncovered for about 10 minutes – bottoms should be browned and crisp. Turn latkes over and bake for another 8-10 minutes. If you are worried about browning on the second side, give pan another ‘brushing’ with a thin coat of oil and then lay latkes back down. Keep an eye on the latkes as they bake to avoid overcooking – crisp and golden brown is what you want.
Serve right away or store covered to reheat the next day at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.
Yields about 2 dozen medium multi-vegetable pancakes