Zucchini Latkes with Za'atar Sour Cream
Here I am publishing a few Chanukah recipes after the holiday. Does that make me late to the party? Mostly. But these are a must any time of year. My mother makes these latkes throughout the year and I would too if not for my stance on frying. Hovering over the skillet, waiting impatiently for those edges to brown, having every window opened as wide as its track allows and yet still everything smells of that irritating frying odor, makes the whole cooking task one I just don't like it. Otherwise these would make the dinner rotation because the taste of fried potatoes laced with zucchini and dipped in za'atar sour cream is to be repeated as often as possible.
It's five days post Chanukah and looking back, the holiday was delightful despite looking very much close to our daily routine. We hosted a party and the kids got one present each that they're still thrilled with making gifting especially rewarding. Save for the baby who prefers clinging my pots and mixing bowls over his toy. Seeing all our neighbors' menorahs lit on windowsills and lined up in the lobby added to the festivity and brightness of the holiday. About that party, there was butternut squash and red lentils soup, these zucchini latkes, eggplant parmesan, fried haloumi salad, asian coleslaw, and this purple cabbage feta salad. We finished things off with mint tea and sfinj (Moroccan doughnuts) for something sweet. The food was wonderful but more than anything the time with my husband's grandparents was precious. They're at a stage where they can't go out much, especially unassisted, and seeing bright joy glistening in their eyes made the whole gathering more memorable than that last bite of sugar-coated doughnut. It was a reminder that the pleasure of food pales in comparison to the pleasure of giving. That even if things don't come out perfect, the moments together are what need to be truly savored.
I've gathered a good tip or two through the online world for that perfectly crisp latke. The oil needs to be the right temperature (350F), you should squeeze out as much liquid as you can from the potatoes and then use the natural starch that settles (thanks Chanie!), and lastly if you're making enough for a crowd and want to plan ahead, follow the reheating instructions I left at the bottom that I got from Jessica who go it from her grandmother Louise.
Zucchini Potato Latkes
yields about 30-40 latkes
6 large Russet potatoes or 12 regular-sized yellow potatoes
4 medium zucchinis
2 onions, grated
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup flour or matzah meal
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dried parsley
oil, for frying
Grate the potatoes and zucchinis with a hand grater or in a food processor and transfer to a large mixing bowl. If you work fast enough I find that the potatoes don't brown so I don't bother placing them in water.
Grate the onion and use your hands to squeeze out as much water as you can before placing in the potato mixture. Transfer the whole mixture to a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth, wrap and squeeze out as much liquid as you can into the mixing bowl. Unwrap and transfer the mixture to a clean mixing bowl.
Add the eggs, flour, coriander, salt, pepper, and parsley and mix well until everything is well coated.
Heat 1 inch of oil in a skillet over medium high heat until a thermometer registers at 350F. Place a piece of carrot in the oil, it keeps the oil clean. Using your hands form small rounds of potato latkes about 1/4 cup in size and gently squeeze out some more of the liquid. Gently drop into the oil and flatten with the back of a spoon. Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side or until the edges are brown and crispy. If you're eating immediately, transfer the latkes to a paper-lined baking sheet to cool. Serve with the za'atar sour cream.
If you're planning on freezing the batch for later use or storing it in the fridge for up to 2 days, don't drain the excess oil after frying. Freeze them and reheat them in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes and then drain the excess oil on a paper towel. If you're reheating from the fridge, reheat them in a 400 degree oven for 5-7 minutes and drain on a paper towel. They'll be just as perfect as if they're freshly made, which was immensely helpful when cooking for a crowd.
Za'atar Sour Cream
1 cup sour cream
1 heaping tablespoon za'atar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Mix all the ingredients together and serve alongside the latkes.