Let’s be honest, latkes are really just Jewish French fries.
Well, maybe that’s not quite right.
For many fans, I’m sure that the salty crunch of early winter latkes conjure childhood memories of standing around warm kitchens, helping mothers and grandmothers and aunts laboriously grate potatoes, measure flour and fry with abandon. For those who still take an old-school, family-focused and fry-happy approach to potato pancakes, I appreciate your sense of traditionalism and suggest you invest in a splatter screen.
I take a slightly different route. The thing is, as with perfect French fries, I’ve been known to have an “I’ll just have one more bite” approach when eating latkes that leaves me with greasy fingers and a guilty conscience. Rather than spreading that effect out over eight nights, I’ve looked for a lighter method of making (and enjoying) my favorite holiday food.
These latkes, which contain grated sweet potatoes, onions and a scant amount of flour, are tossed with a host of different spices and then baked until crisp. No, they will not have the same texture as fried latkes. But they are decidedly better for your health and still overwhelmingly delicious. And, since these latkes are all cooked at the same time on a single sheet pan, you can toss them in the oven and get back to preparing the rest of your holiday meal.
I served them with a cooling scallion yogurt sauce with small additions of cumin, lemon juice and honey. For a kid-friendly alternative, apple sauce would work well too.
Once the potatoes and onions have been grated, this is an easy (and not overly messy) recipe to work on with kids. Invite them to hand-mix the potatoes and spices, measure out each latke and flatten them with the back of a spoon.
From a nutritional standpoint, sweet potatoes are one of the most nutrient-rich foods available. Packed with beta-carotene, vitamins A and C, they’ve been shown to have a positive effect on helping to control blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation.
Baked Sweet Potato Latkes
When grated, the sweet potatoes and onions will be water-dense and soggy. Squeeze out their excess liquid through the sieve or by using a paper towel before combining with other ingredients.
3 sweet potatoes, grated
1 sweet onion, grated
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 pinch grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Scallion Yogurt Sauce
1/2 cup 2% or 0% Greek-style yogurt, drained for 1 hour to remove excess liquid
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon honey
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, stir yogurt, scallions, cumin, honey, lemon and salt. Your sauce is done!
2. Grate sweet potatoes, squeeze out excess moisture through a paper towel and place in a large mixing bowl. Repeat process with onions and add to bowl. Add cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, salt, flour and baking powder to potato mix.
3. In a separate bowl, gently beat eggs. Add to potatoes and mix well (use your hands and really make sure all of the spices and flour are evenly distributed).
4. Line two baking sheets with parchment and gently wipe with vegetable oil to coat with a non-stick spray. Using a tablespoon measure, scoop out latkes onto baking sheet and gently flatten with the back of a spoon.
5. Bake latkes for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, flip and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until slightly crunchy.
Mallory Stuchin, a native Manhattanite, is the food editor for joonbug.com. She is also a natural foods chef and has worked for Mario Batali. Her writing has previously been featured in The New York Observer, Glamour and Maxim, as well as other publications in New York and Los Angeles. Mallory has also studied Ashtanga yoga in Mysore, India and has taught classes at PURE Yoga and New York University. You can follow her on Twitter @malstuch.