I’m Team Latkes All Year. Ever since I discovered how easy it is to latke (yes, that’s a verb) with my food processor’s shredding disc and cheesecloth to squeeze allllll the liquid out and get them extra crispy, latkes have made an occasional appearance on the Shabbat or weeknight menu alongside oven-roasted chicken, tender meat stew or as the main star, green salad on the side.
But I’m not just a fan of potato latkes. I love all kinds of latkes/fritters. In fact, if it’s a vegetable, grain or legume, I’ve probably frittered it (yes, that’s a verb, too). Cauliflower fritters, inauthentic okonomiyaki, lentil patties, brown rice fritters, even super herby salmon patties. Fritters are a regular at my house for a quick meal.
I usually start with any leftover cooked vegetable (nothing too watery or soupy) or grain I happen to find in my fridge. Then I add chopped herbs or spices (or just salt and pepper), an egg or two and, if it’s looking too wet, a binder like flour, chickpea flour, quick-cooking oats or breadcrumbs. All that gets mixed up messily with a fork (an extra egg here, more flour here, if necessary) and dumped into a pan with a thin layer of oil. A few minutes undisturbed on each side, and voilà—dinner (or lunch) is served. (As an added bonus, they’re great for my one-year-old, who is very adamant about feeding herself.)
I truly believe that fritters, when done right, are a perfect food—they pack vegetables, protein and carbs, and, served hot and crisp, are like a handheld hug. The endless, yet totally unpretentious, variations are ideal for the food fatigue most of us are feeling these days.
That’s why I’m declaring (drumroll, please…) Chanukah 2020 Year of the Fritter (after you’re done with the latkes, of course), and I’m here to show you how it’s done with a few of my favorites. (These are very rough guidelines—be sure to tweak as needed!)
Broccoli/Cauliflower Fritters: Take a couple of handfuls of cool steamed broccoli or cauliflower, pulse roughly in the food processor (or with a fork or potato masher) and add an egg, a few tablespoons of breadcrumbs and/or flour, salt and pepper. (Add an extra egg or flour as needed.) Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil, drop dollops into hot oil and pan fry for a few minutes on each side until golden.
Brown Rice Fritters: Combine about one-and-a-half to two cups of cold cooked brown rice (short grain is my favorite) with a big handful of chopped herbs (parsley, cilantro, dill, mint, or, even better, a combination), salt, pepper, freshly grated lemon zest or finely chopped preserved lemon, an egg and a sprinkle of potato starch or flour, and mix. (Add an extra egg if it doesn’t stick together.) Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil, drop dollops into hot oil and pan fry for a few minutes on each side until golden.
Leek and Potato Fritters (Kiftes de Prasa-Style): Steam one or two peeled, cubed medium potatoes and two washed, sliced leeks (white and light green parts only) together. When very soft, let cool briefly, then mash with a fork; add an egg, salt and pepper, a few tablespoons of potato starch and quick-cooking oats or oat bran. Mix together. The batter will be thick, like sticky mashed potatoes. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil, drop spoonfuls into hot oil and pan fry for a few minutes on each side until dark golden-brown. The fritters will stay soft in the middle.