Who Says Vegan Latkes Aren’t Delectable?

Starring leeks, yams, buckwheat and chard – recipes for vegan pancakes that are great on Hanukkah and all year long

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Beet, Leek and sweet potato Latkes
Beet, Leek and sweet potato LatkesCredit: Yael Itzhaki
Rotem Maimon

Every year before Hanukkah we’re flooded with requests from readers who complain that all the recipes we offer for latkes, the traditional holiday (potato) pancakes, call for dairy products or eggs, and who ask why there are no vegan versions. The truth is, they’re right.

The time has come to prove once again that vegan delicacies are easier to prepare than you think – particularly, in this case, because there’s no need to find egg substitutes and you just have to follow the instructions.

So, what are the ingredients of this particular lot of latkes? Well, yams and regular potatoes, plus some rather surprising leeks and of course the usual lentils. The exception is the recipe from Tel Aviv’s Meshek Barzilay vegan restaurant, which includes raw ingredients that may be less common in our pantry – like, for example, brewers yeast. But this is a chance to get to know them.

Some of the following recipes call for frying the patties; others, for baking them. Please note: The former demand more flour, so that the patty won’t fall apart during the frying, and therefore the end product will usually be heavier (not to mention addictive). On the other hand, a baked latke requires less flour and is usually lighter on one’s stomach. Whatever the case, with latkes like these – who needs sufganiyot?

Vegan latkes, with dip (gluten-free)

Vegan, gluten-free latkes
Vegan, gluten-free latkesCredit: Gani Shani

Ingredients:

For latkes:

4 medium-sized red potatoes

pinch of salt

1 tablespoon potato flour (optional)

oil for frying

For the dip:

¼ cup vegan white cheese/cream (I use Einut’s)

1 tablespoon coarse-ground Dijon mustard

chopped scallion

salt, pepper to taste

Wash the potatoes well, dry with clean towel. Grate them coarsely, with a hand grater or appropriate mixer/blender attachment. I, for one, like them with the peel. Using hands or a cheesecloth, squeeze the liquid out of the grated potatoes, and put them in a bowl. Reserve the liquid in a separate bowl (to be used later). Add a pinch of salt to potatoes, mix and put aside.

In the meantime, prepare the dip, combining the cheese, mustard and spices. Chop the green part of onion and mix in. Refrigerate until needed later.

Take the bowl of liquid and scrape up the potato starch that’s accumulated in the bottom and add 1 tablespoon of it to the grated potatoes; if desired, add 1 tablespoon of potato flour. Mix well so no clumps form.

Form flat patties flat. If the mixture isn’t sticky enough and the latkes don’t hold together, you can add more starch from the liquid or more potato flour.

Heat oil in a large skillet – it should reach half the height of the latkes – over a medium heat. Before frying make sure the oil is hot enough: Latkes should sizzle as soon as they hit the pan. It’s important not to fry too many at once which can cause the oil to cool off.

Fry latkes for a few minutes on each side until golden. If necessary, adjust the heat. Remove and place on absorbent paper towel to get rid of excess oil.

Serve immediately together with the dip.

(Recipe from Gani Shani, Vganish blogger)

Baked vegan latkes

Ingredients:

1 large yam (sweet potato), peeled and grated

3 large potatoes, peeled and grated

1 large zucchini, grated

3 tablespoons cornflour

¼ cup oil

¼ cup water

1 ½ cup flour (lentil flour also possible)

a pinch of garlic powder

salt, pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Squeeze grated yam, potatoes and zucchini well to get rid of all the liquid; discard it and place grated mixture in a bowl. Add water, oil, cornflour and seasonings. Slowly add flour and combine well until a uniform consistency is obtained.

Use hands to form patties, place on a baking tin lined with greased baking paper. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Five minutes before the end, raise the temperature to 220 degrees to make the latkes crispier.

(Erez Shebo, Karma restaurant, Jerusalem)

Vegan leek latkes from Meshek Barzilay

Ingredients:

3 cooked, mashed potatoes, or 2 potatoes + 1 yam

½ kilogram tofu (grated in food processor)

1 bunch of chopped parsley

4 tablespoons grated soy mozzarella (optional)

2 tablespoons brewers yeast

1 cup corn meal

salt, pepper to taste

Caramelized leeks:

4 leeks, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon sugar

4 garlic cloves

¼ cup white wine

pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Begin with caramelizing the leeks: Heat a skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add chopped leeks, sauté and caramelize with the sugar, garlic cloves and white wine; add salt to taste. When the leeks are caramelized remove from heat and cool.

Mix all the latke ingredients in a bowl. Note: Some of the potatoes can be replaced with yams or (cooked) beets to lend the latkes color.

Form patties, place on baking tin on greased baking paper. Bake until golden.

(Meshek Barzilay restaurant in Tel Aviv)

Buckwheat, yam and leek latkes

Buckwheat, yam and leek latkes
Buckwheat, yam and leek latkesCredit: Noa Druker

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups spelt

2 ½ cups water

1 potato

a little olive oil

2 leeks

1 medium yam, grated

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Cook buckwheat in a pot with water and a pinch salt, until soft; drain. Cook potato until soft, mash and let cool.

Slice leeks (white parts) and sauté in a pan with a bit of olive oil. Add grated yam.

Combine all ingredients and add seasoning.

Make patties and place on baking tin on slightly greased baking paper; bake for 30 minutes.

(Chef Noa Druker)

Butternut squash and red Swiss chard latkes

Butternut squash and red Swiss chard latkes
Butternut squash and red Swiss chard latkesCredit: Tomer Appelbaum

Ingredients (for 10 latkes):

1 small butternut squash (200-250 grams)

1 bunch Swiss chard leaves (150 grams)

100 grams dry buckwheat (green, not roasted, available in health food stores)

½ teaspoon salt

2 garlic cloves

40 milliliters olive oil

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Soak buckwheat for 6 hours in lukewarm water. Drain and rinse.

Grind buckwheat in a food processor with salt, garlic and olive oil, using metal blade. Ensure that everything is ground properly by scraping the sides with a spatula and mixing again, until a sticky and smooth dough is obtained.

Change the blade attachment of the food processor to a coarse grinder, and grind the rinsed squash after removing seeds (no need to peel). Add to the buckwheat mixture.

Cut chard into small strips, put in a bowl and add the mixture from the food processor. Mix well, kneading by hand until a uniform mixture is obtained.

Make patties and place them on a baking tin lined with baking paper. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

(Chef Gil Maoz of Aba Gil restaurant, Tel Aviv)

Baked vegan yam latkes

Ingredients:

2 large yams

½ tablespoon cumin

1 garlic clove, crushed

a handful of chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

chickpea flour as needed

olive oil

salt, pepper to taste

sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius

Bake yams in until they are soft, mash them and combine with the other ingredients, slowly adding in the chickpea flour until mixture has a firm but malleable consistency. Refrigerate for one hour.

With wet hands form balls from the sticky mixture and bake on a tin until they are golden-brown. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

With some imagination you might think these are orange falafel balls!

Breaded, baked zucchini latkes

Yam and zucchini latkes
Yam and zucchini latkesCredit: Tomer Appelbaum

Ingredients:

3 large zucchinis

1 large onion

3 tablespoons water

3 level tablespoons cornflour

3 level tablespoons flour

half a bunch of basil

salt, pepper to taste

bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Grate the zucchinis and squeeze out excess liquid; grate the onion and chop the basil. Combine all the ingredients – except the bread crumbs – and make patties.

Spread some bread crumbs on a plate, and coat the patties with them. Place on a baking tin lined with baking paper. Bake for 15 minutes.

(Pastry chef Ziv Sandler)

Baked yam latkes filled with cashew cheese

Ingredients:

2 yams

1 onion

3 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons cornflour

2 tablespoons oil

For the cheese:

½ cup cashew nuts

1 cup water

3 tablespoons tapioca starch

juice from half a lemon

salt to taste

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Soak cashews for 2 hours in hot water, then drain off the liquid. Meanwhile, boil the tapioca in water. Mix all the cheese ingredients together in a blender until smooth.

Grate the yams and onion in a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and combine well.

Make thin patties from half the mixture and place on a baking tin lined with baking paper. In the center of each patty put a spoonful of cheese, make thin patties from the rest of the mixture and cover those with the cheese, pressing with your fingers to seal the edges together. Bake for 15 minutes.

(Pastry chef Ziv Sandler)

Vegan latkes with lentils and chickpeas

Tip: I prefer to soak the chickpeas for 24 hours, changing the water two or three times. This gets rid of all the gases and the heavy feeling you may get after eating them. Remember that 200 grams of chickpeas will swell to 500 grams.

Ingredients:

200 grams chickpeas, pre-soaked for at least 12 hours (change water twice)

300 grams red lentils, pre-soaked for 30 minutes

2 onions, finely chopped

½ cup chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves

basil (leaves from 2 sprigs)

1 teaspoon grated ginger

1/2 teaspoon grated cumin

zest of half a lemon

healthy pinch of shata pepper

pinch of turmeric

1 tablespoon chickpea flour

oil for frying

Process chickpeas and lentils in a Magimix using pulses until a fairly fine consistency (that’s also airy) is obtained. Place in a bowl and add other ingredients. Combine well and add spices. Heat a Teflon skillet with some oil, form mid-size patties and fry until golden on both sides.

(Chef Moran Lidor)

Spicy vegan latkes

Ingredients:

2 potatoes, peeled and grated (grate over colander so liquid drains into a bowl)

1 eggplant, roasted and cut in cubes

2 tablespoons pepper paste (chipotle or harissa)

5 tablespoons bread crumbs

pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl until a uniform mixture is obtained. Use a spoon to create patties from the mixture, gently pressing down on them. Place them on a baking tin lined with greased baking paper. Bake for 30 minutes. Use restraint and let the latkes cool before eating!

Sweet and surprising vegan latkes

Sweet and surprising vegan latkes
Sweet and surprising vegan latkesCredit: David Bachar

Ingredients:

200 grams flour (1+1/3 cup)

100 grams sugar (½ cup)

1 pear, grated

3 tablespoons oil

125 milliliters vanilla-flavored soy dessert (1 container), or vegan yogurt

180 milliliters soy milk (3/4 cup)

1 packet of baking powder

50 grams chocolate chips

2 cups oil (for frying)

demerara sugar (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl except for soy milk, chocolate chips and oil. Add the soy milk slowly until a uniform paste is obtained, then add the chocolate chips. Use a spoon to form patties, press down gently.

Heat oil in a skillet, frying each patty separately on each side, until golden brown.

You can sprinkle demerara sugar over the latkes before serving.

(Chefs Rossella Jona and Amir Porat)

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