Meatless Monday: Butternut Squash Latkes

Posted by on Monday Dec 6th, 2010 | Print

OTHER HANUKKAH IDEAS: Classic Potato Latkes; Zucchini-Scallion Cakes; Hash Brown One-Eyes; Small Kitchen Chicken Soup; Five Spice Brisket; Alex’s Roasted Chicken; Seared Salmon with Green Sauce; Breaded Flounder with Parsley Aioli; Squash, Leek & Quinoa Stuffing

I’m always a little fuzzy about what actually characterizes Hanukkah fare beyond potato latkes. I get that it does not involve non-kosher delights like Pulled Pork Sandwiches or Shrimp Lollipops, but beyond that, this is really is a holiday about oil. It’s not that the latkes themselves were consumed while the Maccabes’ miraculous oil burned, it more that we commemorate that burning by the consumption of this particular greasy delicacy. For this reason, it’s an excellent night for vegetarians in the room, or just anyone who prefers loading their plate with fried carbs and pretending that their main course doesn’t exist (i.e. children, and fatties, like us).

But the other fact of the matter, one that makes Hanukkah dinner a bit of a tricky meal to plan, is that latkes are a pain in the butt to make. A few years ago my mother tried her hand at making potato pancakes for twenty or so guests my dad had invited over for a present swap. I can’t really remember the latkes, but I do seem to recall that my mom was very very frazzle and probably wishing it was Christmas already.

When I celebrated with my parents over the weekend, my mom let me know in advance that if homemade latkes were gracing our table, I was going to be the one frying them. But I’m no fool. Anyone who’s ever volunteered to bring a latke to a dinner party (as I did to Mike’s on Christmas Eve last year) knows that you will be returning to your apartment later that evening with latke-elbow, to latke-scented couches, curtains, and pillows. (Cara’s trick is to make them for two, at most.)

So, long story short, I’ve taken to making varieties of the potato pancake, using ingredients that are, for whatever reason, less annoying to grate, do not leave my whole room reeking of Hanukkah cheer, and are more friendly to making in advance and reheating. This butternut squash version is jazzed up with some fresh cilantro, and topped with cumin-spiced Greek yogurt. Really, the possibilities are many, so long as you replace the title of said fritter, cake, patty, or bite, with the word latke instead.

From my kitchen, recovering from a latke hangover, to yours,



Butternut Squash Latkes with Greek Yogurt and Cilantro
Makes 12 small patties

1 tablespoon butter
2 cups coarsely grated butternut squash
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (plus more for garnish)

½ cup Greek yogurt
½ teaspoon cumin

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the squash and sauté until lighter in color and soft, but not turning to much, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the squash and egg. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Coat a large cast iron skillet with a generous layer of olive or canola oil, and set it over high heat. Test the heat with the first latke: add a tablespoon full of batter to the pan. The latke should immediately sizzle and firm. Cook for one minute on each side. Remove to a plate with paper towels. Repeat with the remaining batter, making sure not to crowd the pan.

In the meantime, combine the yogurt and the cumin. Salt to taste.

To serve, dollop each latke with a little yogurt, and garnish with a cilantro leaf.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate. Simply reheat the cakes in a 400 degree oven for 5-10 minutes until crisp.

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