Butternut squash and leek latkes with pan-roasted cumin

Butternut squash latkes

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

Sparkling wine iconA 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

Butternut squash and leek latkes with pan-roasted cumin

makes 32 small latkes or serves 4 to 6
active time: 40 min

  1. 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  2. 12 oz (340 g) butternut squash – peeled, seeded and coarsely grated (use medium hand-grater or food processor shredder attachment) (2 3/4 cups)
  3. 1 medium leek – white and pale green parts only, halved, thoroughly washed and cut crosswise in 1/4″ slices (1 1/4 cups)
  4. 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  5. 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  6. freshly ground black pepper to taste
  7. 2 extra large eggs – lightly beaten
  1. olive oil for the pan
  2. 1/3 cup sour cream
  3. cilantro leaves as garnish

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Butternut squash latkes

latkes, butternut squash, leeks

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  • Reply Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. December 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    These are so pretty! I love that you used squash and I love that pop of color the leeks add!

  • Reply Nova December 7, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Outstanding twist – cumin and butternut squash are a powerful combination…what an explosion of flavor. Added to my Christmakkah party menu.

    • Reply Viviane December 7, 2011 at 12:59 pm

      Thank you so much Nova! Wishing you a delicious “Christmakkah”!

  • Reply Donna Ford November 4, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    Now that looks delicious Viviane! I can’t wait to try this recipe. Great photo! I will check out your feature in the Rockland Magazine!

  • Reply Hannah December 14, 2010 at 6:48 am

    I absolutely love the idea of the recipe and would like to make it for my parents-in-law over Christmas. They are strict vegetarians and averse to eating eggs – is there something that I could substitute instead as a binding agent?

  • Reply Shirley December 6, 2010 at 1:02 am

    These are so beautiful! I’ve never made latkes before but I’m going to be trying this recipe. Love all the ingredients and what a gorgeous photo.

  • Reply Gwen~healthymamma December 3, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    You have no idea how excited I am about this recipe! The flavours are so wonderful, exciting and refreshing! This is one of those recipes that I find and can’t believe I ever lived without! If it wern’t 5 pm I run to the stor and buy some leeks! This is tomorow nights dinner and it can’t come soon enough!
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Viviane December 3, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    Baking Barrister, Jenny, Debi, Priscilla & Trish, Thank you So much for stopping by and for your wonderful comments!

  • Reply Trish December 3, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Wow, these are gorgeous! I love how you used leeks and squash instead of potato. They must taste delicious! And the cumin is the perfect touch. Congrats on top 9!!

  • Reply Priscilla - She's Cookin' December 3, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    I love the color and texture of these latkes! The sweet potato and sage latkes that I posted were delicious and a nice change of pace, but I’ll definitely have to try yours. Happy Hanukkah!

  • Reply Debi (Table Talk) December 3, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Oh, it is a bit chilly outside today, and these sound like something I want to make for lunch…beautiful as always, Viviane.

  • Reply Jenny Nguyen December 3, 2010 at 5:00 am

    yup, agree these would go very nicely with a sparkling white wine… they look delicious, light and crispy 🙂

  • Reply Baking Barrister December 3, 2010 at 1:39 am

    Woo for another non-potato latke recipe! I’m determined not to make one potato latke this year & this is some welcome inspiration.

  • Reply Michelle December 1, 2010 at 11:30 pm


    We made these tonight for our chanukah celebration. They were a hit – even with the boy and his discriminating palate. Yah!

    Hope you and Marc are well. It’s crazy as usual around here.

    Love, Michelle and the rest of the gang

    • Reply Viviane December 2, 2010 at 12:18 am

      Oh Michelle! You made my day… I’m so glad the recipe was a hit – and to have Atticus’s endorsement is quite a feat! Much love and hugs to the whole family and Happy Hanukkah, Chanukah, Hannukah!

  • Reply Kristen December 1, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    I love both of these vegetables! I’m bookmarking this recipe for later as it looks delicious. Beautiful photo, too. 🙂

  • Reply Tiffany December 1, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    I am loving your blog, it seems I am saving every recipe! This one is no exception, I only recently discovered I like leeks, this sounds wonderful!

  • Reply Viviane December 1, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Thank you for your comments everyone and wishing you and yours a very happy Hanukkah!

  • Reply torviewtoronto December 1, 2010 at 11:41 am

    beautifully presented looks delicious

  • Reply mimi December 1, 2010 at 10:40 am

    I love the color of these! They look delicious! The beet variation looks yummy too. I have both beets and squash right now 🙂

  • Reply Lori Lynn December 1, 2010 at 10:21 am

    They sound terrific. I’ll be making latkes tonight too. Happy Hannukah!

  • Reply lisaiscooking November 29, 2010 at 11:01 am

    I’m so glad I saw this today. I have two butternut squashes in my kitchen, and I was feeling uninspired about them. This looks perfect!

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