Vail Daily food: Love those latkes |

Vail Daily food: Love those latkes

Jim Romanoff
The Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado
Larry Crowe | AP PhotoUsing frozen hash browns with your own added spices and vegetables lets you get these easy sauteed mushroom and onion latkes to the table quickly while not sacrificing flavor. Serve topped with herbed sour cream.

It can be a pleasant surprise when a food with butter in its name turns out to be good for you, as in the case of butternut squash.

Along with other winter squashes such as acorn, delicata and pumpkin, butternut squash is loaded with vitamins A and C, plus potassium and fiber. It also is filling, has just 65 calories per cup, has almost no fat, and can have a rich flavor that justifies its name.

Butternut squash also is versatile in the kitchen. The high and dry heat of roasting is particularly good at enhancing its flavor of by caramelizing the natural sugars it contains.

For a quick and easy side, toss seeded and cubed butternut squash in a bit of olive oil and roast at 400 F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until quite tender. Serve it seasoned with salt and pepper, or if you like, a drizzle of maple syrup or even balsamic vinegar.

Butternut squash also sometimes can take the place of potatoes, as in these butternut squash and sage latkes for Hanukkah.

The squash and onions can be shredded using a box grater or a food processor. Be sure to squeeze as much liquid out of the shredded onion as possible. Otherwise your latkes will be too wet and fall apart in the pan.

Latkes are a traditional part of the Hanukkah celebration because the oil they are fried in symbolizes the miracle of the small amount oil that burned for eight days when the temple was under siege.

This recipe honors that story by using a few teaspoons of olive oil to brown the latkes in the pan before they are crisped to perfection in a hot oven. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, applesauce or both.

Start to finish: 45 minutes

1 medium onion, shredded (3/4 cup)

3 cups shredded butternut squash (1 small squash)

1/4 cup matzo meal

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

1 large egg, lightly beaten

6 teaspoons olive oil, divided

Heat the oven to 450 F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Spread the shredded onions between 2 sheets of paper towel and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Transfer the onions to a large bowl. Add the squash, matzo meal, salt, pepper and sage, then toss to coat. Add the egg and 2 teaspoons of the oil. Toss to coat.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil. Working in batches, use a 1/4 cup measure to scoop the squash mixture into the skillet, leaving several inches between each mound. Use a spatula to flatten them into roughly 3-inch pancakes.

Cook until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the latkes to the prepared baking sheet.

Bake until the latkes are crispy and hot, about 10 minutes.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 109 calories; 67 calories from fat; 7 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 15 mg cholesterol; 10 g carbohydrate; 1 g protein; 1 g fiber; 249 mg sodium.

Servings: 12

By J.M. Hirsch

AP Food Editor

Latkes aren’t all that difficult to make, but it’s always nice to amp the flavor and trim some time where you can.

In this easy rethinking of the Hanukkah staple, you won’t need to break out the food processor or bloody your knuckles to grate the potatoes. A bag of frozen hash browns (which are just grated and frozen potatoes) allows you to skip that step entirely.

To add flavor, the hash browns are blended with onions and mushrooms that are slowly sauteed until browned. Some thyme, smoked paprika and garlic powder also are added, but you could substitute whatever seasonings you prefer.

If you’d rather not fry, you also could bake these latkes. Just scoop the mixture into pancakes on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake at 400 F until crisp on the bottom. Flip and cook until evenly browned.

For a tasty sauce for these (or any) latkes, mix 1/2 cup of sour cream with some minced garlic, a splash of lemon juice and a bit of salt and pepper.

Start to finish: 30 minutes

1 tablespoon butter

2 cups sliced button mushrooms

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

3 cups frozen hash browns, thawed and gently squeezed to extract excess water

1 large egg, beaten

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Canola oil, for frying

In a large skillet over medium-high, melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and onions, then saute for 10 minutes, or until the mushrooms are well browned and the skillet is mostly dry. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add the hash browns, egg, thyme, paprika and garlic powder, then mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

In a medium skillet over medium-high, heat about 1 tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add about 1/4 cup of the hash brown mixture. Use a spatula to flatten into a pancake. Cook until browned on the bottom, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Flip and cook for another 3 minutes. Repeat with the remaining mixture, adding oil to the pan as needed.

Servings: 8 latkes

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