It is a little known fact that white potatoes are not the enemy! They are often rejected as a passé food source revered by baby boomers and steak house enthusiasts, often demonized by dieters. Well, you can have your potato and eat it too! I believe in listening to our gut when it comes to cooking. This often means we will eat less processed food and eat more nutrient dense home cooked foods as well. Potatoes are a comfort food that should not be left out.
Potatoes are tuberous vegetables that are a part of the nightshade family. It is often pointed out that sweet potatoes are "better" than white potatoes. I feel like no whole food is better or worse, they are just different. Thank heavens for the potato diversity that still exists today despite mono cropping. I would get awfully sick of sweet potatoes if that was all that we could eat! It is true that, despite their sugar content, sweet potatoes contain fewer calories, lower carbs, and 400% of your daily requirement for vitamin A. But have no fear white potatoes have a host of benefits too! White potatoes are a good source of fiber, protein, Vitamins A, C, & B6, Minerals (potassium, magnesium, and iron). That's one hot potato!
Nightshades and starchy vegetables can often worry people who have inflammatory disorders. This recipe has a healthy dose of turmeric and black pepper to combat any flare-ups. Turmeric contains a polyphenol (micronutrient) called curcumin, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer root. Turmeric has been used by many cultures for thousands of years in food and is a popular herb used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat a wide variety of health issues. Black pepper contains piperine a pungent constituent which, when added to turmeric, increases the bioavailability of the curcumin exponentially. Making this latke recipe not just food, but medicine!
Root vegetables such as potatoes are wonderful in fall and winter months when the wind blows and you feel like a leaf that could blow away. Root vegetables ground us, nourish us, and even help us get a better night sleep if eaten at dinnertime. They are affordable and a little goes a long way to fill your belly!
Latke, meaning pancake in Yiddish, can to be traced back as far as the middle ages. According to Wikipedia, the Ashkenazi Jews popularized making and eating latkes during Hanukkah. Simple pancakes were made using other types of vegetables, cheese, and starches depending on what was available in their region. Whether, religious or secular the latke has become an institution for most people of Jewish descent that I know.
Latkes, for me, are a comfort food. They are up there with macaroni and cheese as a go to when I feel nostalgic for my childhood. Many cultures have their own take on the potato pancake but growing up in NYC, nothing quite compares to the latke. My first exposure to these scrumptious fried cakes was through the rounded glass partition at a deli along-side cold fish salads and exotic fermented veg. My mother would heat them up and glob sour cream on them or applesauce. I am not a sour cream kind of girl, and if you too are a purist, the latke stands alone! No side or sauce is necessary. What is your favorite latke story or memory? Please post it here in the comments!
Disclaimer: This recipe is best cut in half or even a quarter of the size unless you have a family of 10 or are preparing for a party. I have a large freezer so I make more than I would ever want to eat then freeze them in small batches so that I can take out a small batch whenever we are in the mood!
1 large bag of Potatoes (Russet is great) about 6.5 lbs (peeled and shredded)
7 pasture raised eggs (beaten)
1 cup whole-wheat flour (use matzo meal for Passover or Bob's for gluten free)
1 bunch scallions (chopped fine)
1 large yellow onion (diced finely)
5-6 cloves garlic (minced or pressed)
3 TB spoons turmeric
2-3 TB spoons black pepper
2 TB spoons Himalayan salt (real salt or fine Celtic sea salt)
3/4 cup Olive Oil (add more for frying if necessary)
Combine peeled and shredded potatoes with diced onion, minced garlic and scallions in a very large mixing bowl. Add flour, turmeric, pepper and salt and mix well with potatoes. Beat eggs in a separate bowl then add to potato mixture and mix well with large wooden spoon.
Heat up cast iron pan or scan pan on medium heat and add oil. Wait till oil starts to get hot and test it with a small drop of latke batter. If it sizzles right away it is ready.
Take a small ladle and drop small circles of latke batter in the frying pan. When corners brown and bubble flip with a spatula. Go for golden to brown for the best flavor. Transfer the finished batch to cooling rack lined with a few layers of paper towels to soak up excess oil. Repeat till all the batches are complete. This recipe makes about 45 palm-sized latkes.
If you are planning on hoarding these in the freezer as I do: let the latkes sit out and cool. Once they are cold to the touch transfer 10 or so into a freezer bag, mark with the date then lay them flat in the freezer. I double the freezer bags so that I don't get freezer burn latkes. It will fill about 4 bags to store. Have 8 freezer bags and a sharpie ready. Then whenever you have run out of ideas for a starch, are in the mood for comfort food, or even just something to make your brunch more exciting you can pop these in the toaster oven! Voila! Latkes on demand!
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