Potato pancakes are the signature dish for Hanukkah because they are fried in oil, and dishes fried in oil represent the miracle of the holiday. As the story goes, when there was only a small container of oil enough to light the temple for only one day, the oil lasted for eight days.
After many attempts to find a shortcut to peeling and grating the potatoes, I discovered a no-fail technique. Instead of grating the potatoes and onions, I puree the eggs and onions (or scallions) in the food processor until fluffy, and then pulse in the unpeeled potato chunks until they resemble finely grated potatoes. You’ll also use the food processor to mix the batter.
Zucchini and carrot are blended into the potato mixture for a colorful alternative to plain potato pancakes. A nonstick skillet will ensure that the pancakes won’t stick.
I like to serve these pancakes alongside sour cream and my updated applesauce for the holiday, but potato pancakes can be enjoyed in other menus as well.
Try them as an appetizer cooked into silver dollar-shaped rounds, and top them with a touch of sour cream, smoked salmon, and if you are really celebrating, a spoonful of caviar or other fish roe. A bottle of sparkling wine is a perfect accompaniment. Or garnish with sour cream and spicy salsa for a Mexican touch. You can also serve these for breakfast or brunch alongside an egg frittata or scrambled eggs. They also make a great side dish with any grilled or roasted main course.
One-Step Potato Vegetable Pancakes
Makes 12 to 14 pancakes
- 1 medium onion, quartered
- 2 large eggs
- 1 medium baking potato, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 small carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Pinch black pepper
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Vegetable oil for frying, like grapeseed or canola
Puree the onion and eggs together in a food processor fitted with the metal blade until smooth and fluffy. Add the potatoes, zucchini, and carrot, and pulse the mixture until finely chopped and still retaining some texture. Add the salt, pepper, and flour, and quickly process to combine, making sure not to over-process. Pour the batter into a medium mixing bowl.
Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium high heat. Pour a tablespoon of batter in the skillet and test the oil. When it is hot enough, spoon tablespoons of the batter in the skillet, making sure that there is room between each pancake. Flatten them with the back of a spoon and use the spatula to round out the sides, if necessary. Fry until golden brown and turn the pancakes. Fry the other side until golden brown.
Transfer the pancakes to a cookie sheet lined with two layers of paper towels. Allow the pancakes to drain excess oil. Place on a platter and serve immediately.
Have a flat wire strainer nearby to collect any particles that stay in the oil; if the oil becomes too dirty discard and begin again.
Don’t crowd the pan or the oil temperature will drop, and the pancakes will be oily.
Have a wide spatula for turning the pancakes.
Make sure to place the pancakes on paper towels to remove any excess oil before serving.
Advance preparation: To make the pancakes ahead and freeze: Lay them on a double sheet of aluminum foil and enclose the pancakes tightly in the foil. Make sure the pancakes are cool and then place on a flat surface in the freezer.
When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and place the foil packets on a baking sheet. Remove the top sheet of foil so that the pancakes will bake evenly. Bake the frozen pancakes for about 7 minutes or until they are brown and crispy.