December 13, 2012

Fa La La La Latkes

Low-Sodium Leek Carrot Parsnip Latkes

Before we talk about latkes we need to talk about potatoes.

I love potatoes. I reaaaaaaally love them. Over the moon love them. Like, I would pay fifteen dollars for a small cup of salt-free french fries kind of love them. So now that we’re clear about this, let me confess something else.

I hate potato latkes.

Not the good crispy once-in-a-lifetime perfect latkes. But the soggy, grey, what-the-hell-happened latkes that seem to be my fate every Chanukah. And let me tell you this, it’s not that I don’t try. Because what could be more perfect that a patty made from potatoes? Nothing. So yes, I’ve tried. I’ve tried everything — from making them the night before to baking them to frying them in an insanely deep vat of oil — and none of it has worked.

Potato Latkes: One Million. Me: Zero.

But like all the other challenges I’ve faced, I thought that this might be a good time to makeover the latke. And invite a new root vegetable (parsnips) to the Chanukah party.

And this switch up is definitely a good thing. Because most latke recipes are super simple and rely on typically salty toppings (which we’ll get to in a moment) to perk them up. So to make them low-sodium and delicious,  these new ingredients come to the rescue. Parsnips provide a natural bite and peppery taste while leeks and carrots lend a sweetness, which mix together to form a veggie cake that is colorful and balanced in flavor.

As a bonus, you don’t have to stop with leeks, carrots and parsnips. Grated beets will be even prettier on a plate, not to mention adding a natural “saltiness” due to it’s high sodium content. And for those that cannot eat spuds due to a low-potassium, kidney-friendly diet, use zucchinis and yellow squash to make the latkes. Just be sure to squeeze them out after grating so they are as dry as possible before frying.

With so many different veggie options, you can try a different latke every night.

As for those high-sodium latke accoutrements — like sour cream, smoked fish, and caviar — be sure to get equally creative with your embellishments. And swap out the traditional toppings for low-sodium Greek yogurt or creme fraiche; home-pickled salt-free cabbage or red onions; or a tart cranberry applesauce.

All easy ways to make sure your low-sodium holidays stay flavorful and bright.



  • 2 large carrots, peeled
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled
  • 1 large leek, washed and finely diced
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill
  • 1 teaspoons salt-free garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Applesauce, optional
  • Low-sodium Greek yogurt, optional


Cover a plate or cooling rack with paper towels. Then, use a box grater to grate the carrots and the parsnips. In batches, squeeze the carrot and parsnip shreds over the sink until all the liquid is removed. Set them aside in a medium mixing bowl and repeat until all the carrots and parsnips have been squeezed dry.

Add the leeks, eggs, flour, dill, garlic powder, and black pepper to the bowl and using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix until everything is well combined. Add extra flour if the batter feels too wet and runny.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil. When hot and ready, carefully make small patties (about ½ cup each) from the batter and place into the skillet, working in batches to not overcrowd the pan. Fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side, and then transfer the latkes to the paper-towel-lined plate or cooling rack. Repeat until all the batter has been latke’d and cooked. Serve immediately with applesauce and Greek yogurt.


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