Saturday, December 4, 2010


Vegetable Latkes

latkes1Call them what you want – latkes, vegetables pancakes, fried-deliciousness – they’re a holiday treat many of us crave this time of year. They’re also traditionally made with potatoes,  a food some of us Primals feel better avoiding. The tuber’s low-moisture and high-starch content creates a crispy exterior and fluffy interior when fried in oil. The high starch content, unfortunately, is also the reason the insulin resistant among us are better off turning to less starchy vegetables to satisfy latke cravings.

Although latkes made with vegetables like carrot, turnip, daikon radish and zucchini will never be quite as crispy as potato latkes, they are darn good in their own right. The flavor of each vegetable is mild enough that you’ll still feel like you’re eating a latke, yet the latke is turned into something new and interesting. Zucchini latkes are mildest of all, the carrot and turnip are slightly sweet and the daikon version has just a hint of spiciness.

Traditional latkes also use flour as a binding ingredient; unnecessary filler in our minds that doesn’t need to be replaced with anything. Eggs will bind latkes together just fine, as long you squeeze as much moisture out of the vegetables as possible before frying. This is easily done after the vegetables are grated. Simply wrap a thin dishtowel around the grated vegetable and squeeze. A surprising amount of moisture will drip out. It also helps to make vegetable latkes that aren’t too big, otherwise they’ll fall apart while frying.

As long as we’re bucking tradition by tossing out flour and potatoes, we can’t resist encouraging you to try a few more new twists. Why not add a sprinkle of cinnamon to carrot latkes or diced scallions and tamari to the daikon radish? Maybe a little curry powder to the turnip or fresh herbs to the zucchini? As usual, we’re open to your suggestions, too. What is your favorite latke recipe?

vegetables 1
  • 3 cups grated carrot, turnip, daikon radish or zucchini (around 260g or 9 oz.)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Oil for frying
(I used broccoli that I chopped in my food processor, and the broccoli was dry, so I did not have to squeeze any moisture out of it.  They tasted SO much like potato pancakes or hash browns.)

Wrap a light weight dishtowel around 1 cup of grated vegetable at a time and squeeze as much water out as possible.
squeezeoutwater 1
In a bowl, mix grated vegetable with egg, salt and pepper. Start with the two eggs per 3 cups of grated vegetables to bind the latkes. After frying a few, add more egg as binder only if necessary.
gratedvegetables 1
Heat 1/2 cup oil over medium to medium-high heat. (I used 1/4 cup olive oil.)  Toss a pinch of grated vegetable in the pan – you’ll know the oil is hot enough if it starts sizzling immediately. Scoop 1/4 cup or less of grated vegetable into your hand and form into a very loose patty. Set the patty in the hot pan and press it down gently with a fork.  (I measured the broccoli into a 1/4 cup measure, and then just tipped in into the pan, then used a fork to press it into a pattie.)
Cook at least 2-3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned.
fryinglatkes 1
You can keep the oven at 250 degrees and keep latkes warm inside the oven while you cook the whole batch.
If the oil becomes dark or begins to smoke, it is necessary to dump out the oil, wipe out the pan and start fresh before frying more latkes. Enjoy!
latkes2 1

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