The Ultimate Latke

Though Passover is traditionally when the culinary spotlight shines on Latkes (potato pancakes), these amazingly delicious, inexpensive, versatile gems should corner an all-year-long spot in your go-to recipe repertoire. And when I say versatile, I mean served alongside eggs for breakfast, topped with a dollop of sour cream and smoked salmon for an elegant appetizer, used as a base for mini-scoops of chicken salad, or slid under a slice of glazed pear topped with a dainty whirl of whipped cream.

Of course, the very best traditional Latke can be a little more time-consuming than most of us would like; you need to grate the potato, and then squeeze that starch-laden moisture out of the grated spuds, only to add back just the right amount in order to insure classic, crispy Latkes. Really? That’s definitely not my idea of fast to prepare fare!

But what if, with one easy substitution, you could simplify the latke making process, amp the flavor up two-fold, AND add in a rich source of fiber, anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals including a big mega-dose of Vitamin A and B-carotene? Well no sooner said than done – just use a large sweet potato instead of a plain potato, and you’ve accomplished all that.

Now beyond streamlined preparation, tastier and more healthful, the rich golden-orange color gives these Latkes a lovely hue that compliments anything they’re paired with. Best of all though, one large sweet potato makes about 20-24 small latkes. Resist eating them all in one sitting, and they will reheat beautifully; if separated with parchment paper and protected in a freezer bag, they become culinary gold for whipping out when faced with unexpected guests or a midnight kitchen raid. Now that’s my kind of go-to recipe!

Sweet Potato Pancakes (Latkes)

1 large sweet potato, peeled
3 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
1/2 red or yellow onion, very finely chopped
5 green onions, very finely chopped
1 shallot, very finely minced
4 eggs
1/3 cup Matzo meal (regular or the gluten-free version)
salt and pepper for seasoning
olive, grape seed or avocado oil (or your favorite)

1. Grate peeled sweet potato on large hole grater. Toss with citrus juice.
2. Add the minced onions (red, green and shallot) in with the sweet potato and toss.
3. Stir in the matzo meal.
4. Beat the eggs with a fork until blended. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Pour over the potato mixture and toss.
5. Heat a heavy bottom pan over medium heat. Pour in enough oil to lightly coat the bottom.
6. Place mounds of potato mixture into a pan with olive oil (1/4 – 1/3 cup for each “pancake”) over medium heat. Cook 4-5 minutes per side or until golden and potato is cooked through.
7. Keep warm in the oven until all have been cooked.

Traditionally, these are served with sour cream or applesauce – but I have to admit that a drizzle of maple syrup and scattered garnish of chopped crispy bacon, is absolutely divine!

Candy LesherCandy Lesher is a “chef, writer and foodie extraordinaire.” email

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