I came up with this recipe for a Hanukkah feature I wrote in the 2010 holiday issue of Rockland Magazine.
Of course, the potato latke is de rigueur on any Hanukkah menu, but why not serve latkes with other seasonal ingredients, I wondered? That’s when sweet, delicate butternut squash came to mind… and this recipe was born.
Because the squash is grated raw, the latkes remain light and slightly crunchy. The addition of the pan-roasted cumin seeds bring these lovely morsels an exotic flair, while the sour cream helps to pull the flavors together.
Food & wine pairing: Germany, sparkling Riesling with butternut squash and leek latkes
A sparkling wine is a perfect companion to these flavorful latkes, but make sure that it’s not too acidic and that it has exotic flavors. A sparkling Riesling from Germany (called Sekt), a Blanc de Blancs from Champagne or a Crémant de Bourgogne would be ideal.
Butternut squash and leek latkes with pan-roasted cumin
makes 32 small latkes or serves 4 to 6
active time: 40 min
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 12 oz (340 g) butternut squash – peeled, seeded and coarsely grated (use medium hand-grater or food processor shredder attachment) (2 3/4 cups)
- 1 medium leek – white and pale green parts only, halved, thoroughly washed and cut crosswise in 1/4″ slices (1 1/4 cups)
- 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 extra large eggs – lightly beaten
- olive oil for the pan
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- cilantro leaves as garnish
- Step 1: Heat a small heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and cook until they turn deep golden and are fragrant – about 2 minutes – shaking the pan constantly and taking care not to burn the seeds. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
- Step 2: Place the butternut squash and leek in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with the cumin seeds, flour, salt and pepper. Toss well. Add the eggs and stir until well blended.
- Step 3: Heat a large heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to generously cover the pan, about 1/8″. Drop one tablespoon worth of batter into the hot oil for each latke. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until golden-brown. Flip the latkes and sauté for another 2 minutes until golden-brown, reducing the heat when the pan gets very hot (so that the oil doesn’t burn). Transfer to a tray lined with a paper towel. Repeat until the butternut squash mixture has all been used up, adding more oil to the pan as necessary. Place the latkes on a serving platter. Spoon a dollop of sour cream on top of each latke. Garnish with a cilantro leaf and serve immediately.
- Cook’s note: For the crispiest latkes, serve them as soon as they’re made. However, the latkes can be prepared up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated. To reheat, place on a baking tray and bake at 375°F (190ºC) for 6 to 7 minutes until sizzling.