I cannot imagine Chanukah without frying. It’s just what we do. The symbol of Chanukah, without getting all technical here, is about the miracle of how one day of oil lasted for eight days. And so, to commemorate the holiday, we traditionally fry things in oil, reminding us of all the miracles of Chanukah. When Chanukah (and Christmas) are over I usually hope for the miracle of losing the extra pounds. But that’s another story …
Two popular fried foods are latkes and doughnuts. I always make sweet potato latkes (see here for recipe), but this year I thought to give zucchini and parsnip a try, without eggs. My first ever egg free latke in all my years of making latkes after recently discovering that my oldest son (back home since graduating college) is intolerant to eggs. We discovered this by doing an allergy elimination diet. His bouts of sneezing and chronic runny nose are gone! When I know it’s a food he loves (and when he’s around!) it will also be egg free …
I will admit, I was a little nervous, so I made a smaller-than-usual batch. My usual batch is 6 dozen. We are a big family, and we love latkes. I kept them small (about 2 inches wide) to prevent breakage.
The miracle of Chanukah … not one fell apart, and they were as crispy as ever! Zucchini and parsnip makes one heck of a tasty latke.
The one thing I did notice with these is they were softer than ones I have made in the past. Inspired by the photo in the Williams Sonoma catalog, I added some unsweetened coconut yogurt on top with chives instead of caviar.
The yogurt adds a creamy sour cream-ish taste to the latke and the chives bring out the sweet onion in the latke and compliment the yogurt very well. But if you ask me, they are just as tasty without garnish too. As usual, I eat some with and without garnish to see what the garnish adds to the food. Latkes garnished are quite scrumptious. As an appetizer I think they are so pretty when garnished. I will leave it up to you to decide …
From my kitchen to yours, here’s a little Chanukah tradition I hope you enjoy as much as we do.
Makes 18 medium latkes
5 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
5 medium parsnip (about 5 inches long), ends trimmed, peeled
1 large onion, peeled
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed black pepper
1/2 cup arrowroot starch (I use Bob’s Red Mill Flours)
1/4 cup organic white rice flour
1/8 cup sparkling water (like Pellegrino)
Grape seed oil, or any other high heat tolerant oil.
Coconut yogurt, unsweetened
Please read all my notes (below) before beginning.
Grate zucchini, parsnip, and onion in a food processor. Remove any large pieces and chop finely. Transfer into a large bowl. Add kosher salt, pepper, arrowroot starch, white rice flour. Stir well to combine. Add sparkling water and mix again until mixture feels mushy.
Set a heavy bottomed stainless steel (for even heat) saute pan on high heat. Add about 1/2 inch high of oil to the pan.
Chanukah is not the time to count calories 🙂
Note: To get your latkes (or anything, really) crispy – without being greasy – heat your oil to 350 degrees F. A candy thermometer should give you an accurate temperature and is a great tool that takes the guesswork out of frying. Remove thermometer when it reaches temperature and begin frying. If you do not have one wait until the oil looks thin and watery, then add a piece of grated vegetable to the hot oil (as mentioned in the recipe), if it sizzles immediately (rising up) then it’s ready. It should continue to sizzle with every batch. If not, wait a minute until the oil heats up and check again. You will know your oil is still at the right temperature when the oil continuously sizzles with every batch. You will not need to line your plate with paper towels when frying at such high heat.
Note: Do not use olive oil; it becomes toxic when used at a high temperature.
Wait for your oil to heat (see note). Grab a handful of the mixture and squeeze liquid between your hands as you squeeze into a ball like shape. Place into the hot oil. Do not press down at this point because it could fall apart. It will flatten when you flip it over. Cook about 3-4 minutes, or until dark golden brown, flip over and cook another 3-4 minutes or until dark golden brown.
Those are spaghetti squash and onion latkes in the back …
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, if serving the same day.
Transfer onto a stainless steel cooling rack (an oven safe cooling rack) set over a baking sheet. If your cooling rack is not oven safe, transfer onto parchment lined baking sheet instead. Bake for 10 minutes.
These taste great made up to 3 days in advance, stored in an airtight container. Or freeze (see note below) if making more ahead.
For making ahead/freezing: Cool completely on cooling rack, then put into a freezer safe airtight container with a layer of parchment or waxed paper between layers and freeze. When ready, defrost few hours before and bake for 10 minutes
Note: The cooling rack set over the baking sheet keeps them crispy while cooking in the oven.
Note: Since there are no eggs in the latkes squeeze out as much liquid as you can, then shape into a ball the size of your palm (about 2 inches) and place into the hot oil. I wear disposable (latex free!) gloves for latkes since I rinse my hands so often during the process.
Note: This recipe can be doubled or tripled, if so place a cheesecloth directly into a very large bowl then add your grated ingredients, etc. When all your ingredients are in the bowl, collect the ends of the cheesecloth, lift and squeeze out liquid. Transfer the mixture (still wrapped in the cheesecloth) into another bowl, and squeeze more liquid as needed).
Note: Keep in mind, latkes do take time to make so I make them a a week or so before Chanukah. I made nearly 3 dozen today (zucchini and a spaghetti squash flavor), which took about 90 minutes from peeling parsnips to preparing them to freeze. I freeze them in rows between waxed, or parchment paper, sealed in an airtight freezer safe container. I thaw the latkes the morning of the holiday meal and bake them 15 minutes at 300 degrees F before serving.
Note: This does get messy with all the shaping of the latkes, keep some dish towels within reach. I rinse my hands after I get each batch of latkes into the skillet, then wait for the flip.
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