The un-potato pancake

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  • photo by Tom ciriello

The scent of cooking oil wafting from my kitchen, a place where even french fries are oven baked instead of fried, can mean only one thing – Hanukkah. It’s the one time of year when I dig out the splatter screen, open the windows, follow the tradition of eating foods fried in oil and make latkes.

Tradition may dictate the method, but not necessarily the ingredients. Instead of russet potatoes, these latkes are loaded with root vegetables – sweet carrots, golden beets, celery root and onions along with sweet potatoes and chopped parsley. You can save time and shred the vegetables in a food processor, or use a box grater like I do, being careful not to nick your knuckles.

Many of my childhood memories are centered around holidays and food. I recall platters of crispy golden potato latkes making their way around the table, followed by bowlfuls of applesauce and sour cream. We had to commit to just one condiment, and indecisiveness would surely result in a plateful of naked latkes.

I’m dishing up these reinvented latkes with both homemade applesauce and a tangy vegan sour cream. If you haven’t experienced the treat of homemade applesauce, now’s the time. It takes under 30 minutes to prepare and tastes much better than store-bought. Using a generous amount of freshly grated nutmeg and a cinnamon stick results in a naturally sweet, complex sauce.

There’s no need to wait until Hanukkah, which begins late December this year, to enjoy these latkes. The autumn flavors shout Thanksgiving, so that’s when I’ll be serving them first.

Root vegetable latkes

Vegan Makes two dozen

1 cup shredded carrots

1 cup shredded golden beets

1 cup shredded sweet potatoes

½ cup shredded celery root

¼ cup finely minced onion

4 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1/3 cup flour

¼ cup cornstarch

¼ cup water

grapeseed oil for frying

In a large bowl combine carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, celery root, onion and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Add flour and cornstarch, mixing well. Add water and mix again until no flour is visible. Heat a medium, heavy-bottomed skillet then add 1/4 inch of oil. Drop large spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan, flattening each with the bottom of the spoon. Fry until golden brown. Flip with a spatula and cook the other side. Drain on a towel and keep warm.

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