Thursday, December 5, 2013

RECIPE: Beet and Carrot Latkes: Not Just for Hanukkah

Hanukkah is a time for traditions, but I often think that new twists on old traditions can be the most fun way to celebrate. Latkes are of course the most popular food connected to Hanukkah, but really, they're pretty great any time of year. For festive winter holidays, using root vegetables makes seasonal sense -- and this recipe is a wonderful new way to take beets and carrots out of salads and put them into a starring role in a delicious starter or side dish: Beet and Carrot Latkes.

These latkes don't even require any potatoes to make them work. Their vibrant color makes them perfect for parties and entertaining. And the sweet earthiness of the vegetables make them a great match for exotic spices from North Africa and the Middle East: toss in some cumin or curry or Moroccan spice mix ras-el-hanout to add dimension. Paired with Greek style yogurt or labneh instead of the traditional sour cream, with some torn cilantro leaves on top, these latkes really shine. Enjoy!

(Serves 6)

2 cups shredded beets (raw)
2 cups shredded carrots (raw)
1/2 medium-sized onion, shredded on a grater
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup flour (more or less as needed), to make the mixture the thick but still wet
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 1 tsp. cumin, ground coriander, curry, or ras-el-hanout 
Olive oil or vegetable oil for frying (approx 1 cup)
1 cup plain Greek yogurt or labneh
Small bunch of cilantro

- Mix the shredded beets and carrots together, tossing with salt and pepper (and spices, if using) to season. Add the eggs and mix, then add the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the mixture holds together on a spoon without running.

- In a frying pan, heat enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan, until shimmering. Add the beet and carrot mixture in heaping spoonfuls to the pan (they should sizzle upon contact with the oil), pressing down on each spoonful to flatten it into pancake form. Fry on first side until golden brown around the edges, 2-3 minutes. Flip. Cook until golden brown on the other side. 

- Remove from pan with a spatula to a paper towel-lined platter or plate, to cool and absorb the grease. Continue this way until all of the mixture is used, adding more oil if necessary. 

- To serve, place the latkes on a platter and top with the yogurt/labneh and cilantro, or put the yogurt in a dish in the middle for guests to help themselves.