Happy Hanukkah!! The Festival of Lights started this Saturday, December 8th and will last until this coming Saturday evening. One of the many rich traditions of the holiday is the eating of foods fried or baked in oil, especially olive oil, to commemorate the ancient lamps that held only 1 night’s worth of oil but kept burning for 8 whole nights.
For me the best of these golden fried bites of deliciousness are latkes – pancakes made of grated vegetables, flour, eggs, and seasoned with grated onions and garlic. Latkes have traditionally been made with grated potatoes and are closely related to the potato pancakes of Eastern European cuisine, such as my own Hungarian and Germany ancestors. They can, however, be made with nearly any vegetable, including carrots, yams, zucchini, and butternut squash. Recipes can vary in the amount of egg or flour they use, some being more like hash-browns and others more pancake like. The one thing latkes can’t be is baked, they must be fried, preferably in olive oil, which is the type of oil that burned in the ancient temple lamps. Remember, the oil is symbolic of the holy oil that burned for 8 days, so don’t try to cut calories and bake them. Accept them as the rich, delicious, slightly-less-than-healthy treat they are!
Butternut Squash Latkes
Makes about half a dozen, depending on size
1 medium butternut squash, about 3 cups grated
1 medium sweet onion
1 cup flour
3 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
salt & pepper
oil (for frying)
applesauce (for serving)
sour cream (for serving)
finely chopped chives or parsley (for garnish)
1) Using a sharp knife, carefully peel the butternut squash. Grate the squash into a large mixing bowl. You can use the large or small grates as you prefer; I made these with the smaller grating side because I wanted a slightly more pancake like texture.
2) Peel the onion and grate directly into the bowl. The grated onion will be almost like a puree.
3) Stir in the flour, eggs, baking powder, and salt & pepper (to taste).
4) Pour about ½ to 1 inch of olive oil into a medium frying pan over medium heat and heat until it begins to shimmer. Using a small dry-ingredient measuring cup or a large spoon, place batter in pan and let fry for about 2 minutes per side, adjusting as necessary.
5) Place cooked latkes on a paper towel/coffee filter lined plate for a few moments to absorb some of the oil. Serve hot with a little sour cream and/or applesauce and sprinkled with parsley (my favorite) or chives.