Regular readers of Health Populi know that I’m an avowed foodie (and a champagne-y, too), a longtime member of Slow Food, and adherent to the locavore movement as much as possible.

When I mentioned making self-created carrot/zucchini/potato latkes on Twitter on Chanukah Eve this past Sunday afternoon, I received a request for this recipe from one of my favorite Tweeters – Cheryl Greene of DrGreene.com.

For those of you who don’t ‘get’ why Jews eat latkes at Chanukah, it’s to do with the miracle behind the holiday. Chanukah (alternatively spelled “Hanukkah”) is known as the Festival of Lights, celebrated for eight days. The holiday commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem when the Maccabee family took back the Temple during the reign of Antiochus, who oppressed the Jews and prohibited the practice of Judaism.

When Judah Maccabee and his family were to rededicate the Temple, they found only a small bit of oil, just enough to last for one day. The oil burned, miraculously, for eight days by which time they could access more oil for the Temple. Thus, the holiday lasts for eight days.

But why latkes? Because they are fried in oil.

Here’s the recipe for Cheryl, and anyone else who wants to eat these fabulous treats — good all times of the year, and also whether you celebrate Chanukah or not!

Jane’s Carrot/Zucchini/Potato Latkes

1 5-pound bag Yukon gold potatoes
1 pound carrots
1.5 pounds zucchini
4 medium sized onions
4 eggs
1/2 cup bread crumbs or flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Canola oil (have a lot on hand)

Peel and grate the potatoes (I use a Kitchenaid food processor with the large grate disc). Grate 1 pound of potatoes, then add into the processor an onion, some carrots, and zucchini (unpeeled). When the processor’s bowl is full, empty the vegetables into a very large bowl. Once all the vegetables are grated and added into the mixing bowl, add the beaten eggs, crumbs/flour, salt and pepper, and combine (I use my freshly-washed hands to thoroughly mix).

Prepare two large frying pans with 1/4 cup canola oil in each and heat on medium high temperature. Use a 1/4 measuring cup and place a bit of the potato mixture into the quarter-cup, then put into the hot oil to fry. You should get about five or six latkes in each pan. Continue to pan fry until the underside is golden, then turn carefully as the oil can spatter. This is a good time to use an apron; I know Orthodox women who have ‘frying dresses’ they use each year for this occasion as the oil can fly.

Once the latkes are golden brown on both sides, take out and place on paper towels that you’ve laid out on the counter. Continue to fry the latkes until you are done. Toward the bottom of the bowl, the potato mixture will develop more water and so you should squeeze out the liquid prior to frying or the latke will not crisp up as nicely as it will when it’s drier.

Once you’re done, you can keep the latkes on cookie sheets to reheat later in the oven (a low oven @ 275 degrees for 20 minutes works well) or serve immediately with applesauce and sour cream on the side.
This recipe should yield about 3 dozen latkes about 5″ in diameter.


Health Populi’s Hot Points:
Yes, this is “Health” Populi, and yes, I’m pan frying in oil. But hey, it’s canola, and double-hey, it’s the holiday. Rituals are healthy, too — important markers that remind us where we came from, and the circle of life. Our Chanukah party included a portion of our important social network — eight adults, eight children — and we know social networks enhance health. The champagne and wine did flow (more red than white, reinforcing our intake of resveratrol). Most of all, love, hugs and laughter pervaded the scene. L’chaim to all — TO LIFE! Oh, bon appetit, too!

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