Everyone likes latkes, right? Based on my appearance and mannerisms (and in some cases my last name, which comes from the gentile side, ironically enough), folks assume I’m Jewish, and given that my mother is a Jew, that’s technically true (by the laws of Israel or whatever). From a faith-and-upbringing standpoint I’m really not, but there are some things that I guess I inherited. A case could be made that a knack for latkes (grated potato pancakes) is one, but I beg to differ, as I’ve seldom met anyone who doesn’t dig ‘em. C’mon, salty potatoes with onions fried greasily into a pancake?

Rather than give a traditional recipe, though (something I associate more with winter, when fresh veggies are harder to come by and thus we eat more potatoes), here’s an adaptation using beets. Maybe this is me running from my heritage? I think not, I think it’s just that there were some really awesome beets available and it was a day for a special brunch with Kate.

Beetkes ready to eat
Beetkes ready to eat with a side of cucumber/avocado salad

If you’re looking for structural integrity, this is probably not the recipe to try, but it’s damn tasty. A solution to the delicacy issue is to simply put the batter in a long, oiled baking pan and bake it (roughly 35 minutes at 350), serving it more as a casserole. If you want to go the pancake route (as I prefer) a few tricks to keep in mind. One, it’s really important to drain the beets and onion well after grating – press the grated stuff into the colander hard enough to squeeze out the juice. Two, while it’s possible to cook some kinds of pancakes with minimal oil (or with non-stick spray or whatever) this would be a less ideal context for doing that. Three, resist the temptation to make them large, as when you flip, you’ll encounter trouble. The good news is that they still taste great if they fall apart!

–          3 large beets

–          1 medium onion

–          2 large eggs

–          1/2 cup whole wheat flour

–          2 tsp salt

–          Freshly-ground pepper

–          Oil for frying

1) Grate the beets and onion and drain thoroughly. Place in a large-ish bowl.

2) Add the eggs and mix “wet” ingredients together thoroughly, beating the eggs somewhat in the process.

3) Add the dry ingredients and stir again.

4) Heat up a frying pan or skillet (medium-hot) and add oil (again, see above). When the pan is hot, put the batter on the skillet with a relatively small (say, 2-3 Tbsp) amount per pancake. Press down with a spatula and let cook until the bottom is crispy. Flip over VERY carefully and cook on the other side. Transfer to a serving bowl (lined with paper towel if you want to lessen the grease-quotient), and if you like, put that bowl into an oven set to “warm” until ready to serve.

5) Serve as-is or with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream. With traditional latkes, applesauce and sour cream (in tandem) are the typical condiments, but in this case the beets add a sweetness that would render applesauce fairly redundant.


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