I wanted to title this post “Oven-baked autumn latkes with beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, and fennel seeds,” but that seemed like a mouthful. In any case, these latkes are striking—they really show off the jewel tones of autumn. Plus, they’re tasty and satisfying. The sweet potato adds lots of natural sweetness and the beets contribute their great earthy depth. And I’m always a sucker for fennel. The original recipe is from Veganomicon, and is, as you would expect, vegan, but I un-veganified it because I generally think of latkes as having eggs in them.
- 1 shallot, chopped finely (about 1/4 cup)
- 2 cups unpeeled, shredded beets (about 3 average-sized beets—about 250g)
- 1 cup unpeeled, shredded carrots (about 1 average carrot—about 110g)
- 1 cup peeled, shredded sweet potato (a small one, about 125g)
- 1/3 cup matzoh-meal (or all-purpose flour)
- 2 Tbs. arrowroot (or potato starch or corn starch)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- black pepper
- 1 tsp. fennel seeds, chopped
- 3 eggs, beat well (or for a vegan version use 1/4 cup water + 2 Tbs. corn starch)
- coconut oil for your cookie sheet
- Preheat the oven to 200 C / 400 F. Put your cookie sheet in the oven so it gets hot.
- Chop the shallot in the bowl of your food processor, then switch to the large grating holes and grate the beets, carrots, and sweet potato.
- Move everything to a very large mixing bowl, add in the matzoh meal, arrowroot, salt, pepper, fennel seeds, and eggs. Mix well
- Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and add enough coconut oil to coat the entire cookie sheet with a thin layer. As soon as its melted drop 1/4 cup dollops of the vegetable mixture onto the cookie sheet, and flatten them out a bit with a spatula. Depending on the exact size, you should be able to make about 6-8. You want to use up half the batter in this batch, and then you’ll use the rest in a second batch.
- Cook for ten minutes on each side. Serve ASAP.
The first time I made these I followed the instructions in the recipe for pan-frying them (in a 1/4 inch layer of oil), but it uses a whole lot of oil and is messy. So I decided to switch to the oven method, which I think works out pretty well. I recommend coconut oil or another very stable oil for greasing your cookie sheet rather than olive oil, as the oven temperature is too hot for olive oil and it will probably start to burn.
The original recipe also says to peel the carrot and beets but I like the carrot peel and peeling beets is so messy, so last time I made it I just left the peels on. I didn’t notice them in the final dish at all. I might even try leaving on the sweet potato peel if I can find organic sweet potatoes.
I’ve never heard of “chopping” seeds, but I did it the first time and the latkes had a great, intense fennel flavor. The second time I was lazy and just coarsely grated the fennel seeds in my spice grinder, and the latkes didn’t end up fennel-y at all. But it might be just because I added too many vegetables (300g beets, 125g carrots, and 200-something sweet potato). I think my ratios were a little off as well. Last time I made this the beets really shone, whereas this time the latkes didn’t “beet-you-up” quite as much. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.) Maybe next time I’ll stick to 125g sweet potato.
I cut the flour down from 1/2 cup to 1/3 cup, but eventually I’d like to try to eliminate the flour/matzoh-meal altogether, to make the recipe gluten free. I wonder what could be used instead? Rice flour? Chickpea flour? Potato starch? Ground up quinoa? Would those change the flavor? Would they bind enough? Or maybe the flour can just be omitted entirely?