Growing up, one of the things I looked forward to the most each year around Chanukah was getting to eat my dad’s zucchini latkes. He makes them every year, and they taste so much better than plain potato latkes (in my opinion). They still have that wonderful potato base, but they have a great touch of zucchini flavor and somehow taste much healthier, in the best way.
Last year for our family’s Chanukah party, he told me he didn’t plan to make them. It was too much work. But I screamed and protested at the idea of everyone missing out on the delicious pancakes. So, my dad resorted to making a giant batch as usual. My family oohed and aahed as they tasted the fresh latkes, and I triumphantly told him, “See?! You can’t not make your zucchini latkes.”
So naturally, when I decided to do this three-week series on latke recipes, my first thought was to make my dad’s zucchini latkes. He was flabbergasted and honored that I wanted to showcase his recipe — and scrambled, saying “But I don’t have a recipe! I have to figure out the proportions!” (This is the mark of a great homemade recipe, if you ask me.)
But regardless, I am going to try and quantify that recipe for all of you. I made these latkes over the weekend (with my sister’s help — we’re keeping the recipe in the family), and have made a couple tweaks of my own in the ingredients and instructions lists below based on my experience.
Makes between 20-30 large latkes (enough for your family party! You can halve the recipe if you want a smaller portion)
10 russet potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated or shredded
2 large onions, finely grated (my dad suggests Vidalia for their sweetness, but acknowledges they’re not really large enough)
2 large or 4 medium zucchini, finely grated (see below for a photo and explanation)
1 cup flour
Up to 3 tsp sea salt, or 1-2 tsp table salt
Black ground pepper to taste
- Peel russet potatoes, making sure to remove bruises and eyes. Coarsely grate potatoes into thick strips. Finely grate zucchini — they should look like thin little strips. Finely grate onions — beware of serious crying ahead — which will turn into mush. This is good because you want the flavor of the onions without their texture.
(These are apparently medium zucchini. I used three and afterward wished that there was one more to give a bit more flavor to the latkes.)
- Combine the grated vegetables in a large bowl. Press and drain all water from the mixture several times.
- When relatively dry, add eggs, flour, salt and pepper. Mix very well. The flour should help create a pasty feel that keeps the latkes together. (My dad loves to use sea salt and suggested only 1 tsp, so that’s what I did. Afterward, they didn’t taste quite salty enough. My suggestion: use up to 3 tsp of sea salt, or use a smaller quantity of table salt.)
- Heat a thin layer of olive oil over medium to medium high heat. (Adjust the heat downward if the latkes cook faster than about 5 minutes per side.)
- Scoop latke mixture into pan and flatten with wooden spatula into an even circle.
- Cook latkes for 5 minutes on each side, pressing down every so often with spatula, until golden.
- Add more oil as necessary. Drain oil on a paper towel and transfer to serving plate.