Baked sweet potato and spinach latkes with vegan sour cream

Vegan latkes
(Photo by Ilana Meiller)

By Ilana Meiller

After having rejected latkes in the past few years, I am determined to accept them back with open arms this Chanukah. No, I did not suddenly turn into a conditional vegan and choose to compromise my integrity. Rather, here I am paying tribute to the famous latke by baking it with a plant-based egg replacement and accompanying it with a wonderful vegan sour cream.

Unlike their deep-fried counterparts, these latkes are healthier and not at all boring. Being high in antioxidant properties and low in fat, these baked sweet potatoes offer a fresh take on the beloved potato latkes. This root vegetable also pairs nicely with the mild-tasting baby spinach, increasing the benefits of leafy greens in our diet. And what holds these ingredients together while keeping this dish nutritious is an amazing flax egg mixture, which is similar to the texture of an egg.

These crispy latkes are delicious on their own but definitely stand out when served with this creamy vegan sour cream. It is surprising that this cashew cream requires only a few ingredients and is ready in a couple of minutes. I often season my food with nutritional yeast, and this is no exception. The combination of flavors — sour, nutty, cheesy (nutritional yeast), tangy, spicy (optional) — in this sauce will make your mouth dance.

My recipe already got rave reviews from my family and friends who prefer to consume these latkes cold and add extra heat to this fabulous sauce. How will you eat yours during Chanukah?

Chag urim sameach!

Ingredients for the latkes:
2 large sweet potatoes
1 medium onion
1 cup fresh baby spinach, finely chopped
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon olive oil for baking (extra for greasing)
3 flax eggs (3 tablespoons flaxseed meal/ground flaxseeds mixed with 9 tablespoons water)

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper for approximately 12 latkes. Grease the parchment paper with oil.

Mix 3 tablespoons flaxseed meal with 9 tablespoons water in a small cup. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into quarters.

Grate the sweet potatoes using a food processor fitted with a grating blade or use a hand grater.

Squeeze out the liquid from the sweet potatoes with a kitchen towel or cloth. Note: Do not skip this step if you desire crispy latkes.

Place in a large mixing bowl.

Peel, cut and grate the onion.

Squeeze out excess liquid from the onion and add to the bowl.

Wash and dry the spinach very well. Chop the spinach finely and add to the bowl.

Stir in the whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, spices, olive oil and flax eggs. Mix very well.

To form each latke, drop about 4 tablespoons of the mixture onto the baking sheet pressing it lightly with your hand and then with the back of a spatula. I also form a ball with my hands before I place it on the sheet.

Bake the latkes for 20 minutes. Flip the latkes gently and bake them for an additional 15 minutes. I leave the latkes on a rack to maintain their crispiness until they are ready to be served.

Ingredients for the vegan sour cream:
1 cup raw cashew
½ cup water
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper or to taste (optional)
Cilantro, finely diced for garnish (optional)

Soak the cashews in water for about 5 hours.

Blend all the ingredients, except cilantro if using, in a blender on a high speed until you get a smooth and creamy consistency.

Serve the sour cream with the latkes and garnish with the cilantro if using. PJC

Ilana Meiller was born in Israel and works as a school-based mental health professional in Baltimore County.

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