Leek & Onion Latkes

I just ran this recipe in my Lamorinda Weekly food column and couldn’t help but to feature it here, too, since it’s Chanukah week and latkes are a special dish for this holiday! Usually made with potatoes, we have taken a departure from the regular recipe and ours have no potatoes! Instead, garlic, onions, lots of finely sliced leeks, and bread crumbs crisp up to make these savory pancakes to serve as a side dish or all alone. Top them with a dollop of sour cream, or even better crème fràiche and a sprinkling of finely snipped chives. We like to grate Parmesan on them sometimes, too.

This year I was inspired to make leek latkes because of a recipe I found in Orly Ziv’s cookbook for fried leek patties. Orly is a foodie in Tel Aviv, Israel and she offers market tours and cooking classes, which I enthusiastically took and thoroughly enjoyed while we were in Israel a few years ago. Ever since I’ve had several of her recipes earmarked and leek patties is one of them.  

When I first set out to make the leek latkes, I decided that I really should have some potatoes in them, since latkes are traditionally made with potatoes. They were good, but not quite what I had in mind. So the next day I worked up another batch but substituting onions and garlic for the potatoes. Magic! These latkes, made with either matzo meal or bread crumbs are delicious and exactly what I had in mind from the beginning. While I love making chicken schnitzel with matzo, I actually prefer the bread crumbs for these leek latkes. 

Since we are not hugely into fried foods, preferring the lighter version of sautéing food in just a little bit of oil rather than a lot of oil, we like to cook our latkes low and slow in a frying pan or on a griddle. In fact, one of the keys to this recipe is to sauté the leeks, onions and garlic first before mixing them with the egg and bread crumbs. This way the onions and leeks have a head start on cooking all the way through!

Serve these up with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese or a dollop of crème fràiche!  Delish!

Leek Latkes

Servings 12 (Makes about 20 two-inch latkes)
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 20 mins

Ingredients

  • 4 large leeks cleaned and trimmed to just the whites and very light green parts, and very thinly sliced
  • 2 large yellow onions chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 tablespoons bread crumbs or matzo meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil +/-
  • Garnishes:
  • Crème fràiche and grated Parmesan cheese
  • Finely minced chives

Instructions

  • Clean leeks (this takes a bit of work to get all of the dirt off) and trim them to just the white and very light green parts. Discard the dark green parts of the leeks. Cut the leeks into very thin slices.
  • Chop onions and minced garlic.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet.
  • Add leeks, onions, and garlic to the skillet. Cook over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes, or just until veggies are translucent. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  • Put eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk well. Add veggies and bread crumbs and mix well. Season with lemon pepper, salt, and pepper. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes or so, to allow the bread crumbs to soak up some of the moisture.
  • Cook latkes in batches, by heating oil on a skillet or griddle over medium-low heat. I really love to use the griddle, because you can cook so many at one time! Drop batter by a large spoonful onto the griddle and cook until set and the bottom is golden brown, flattening with a spatula as it cooks. Flip latkes and continue to cook until the other side is also nicely browned. Remove from the griddle and keep warm on a tray in a low-temperature oven while you finish cooking the remaining batter.
  • Serve hot with a dollop of crème fràiche, sour cream or plain yogurt and minced chives, or a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
A gigantic bunch of leeks standing like a sentinel at the Shuk HaCarmel in Tel Aviv

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