Forget Potato Pancakes for Hanukah; Try Turnips

Filed under: Recipes , Tags: , , , , — Author: Caron Golden , December 1, 2014

Guest post by Caron Golden

With Hanukah just around the corner, those of you with Jewish clients will probably pull out your recipe for traditional potato pancakes, or latkes. But what you might not realize is that the true focus of the dish isn’t the potatoes; it’s the oil. It all goes back to the legend of the Maccabees having only enough oil to keep their lamp in the temple burning for one night, but, miracle of miracles, it burned for eight. Hence the eight nights of Hanukah.

With that in mind, you could take this traditional latke recipe and use zucchini or carrots, or sweet potatoes–or, how about this, turnips.


Gold Baby Bunch Turnips2

I discovered the wonder of turnip pancakes when I was given a bag of beautiful gold, pink, and Japanese turnips to try. I loved that I could eat these vegetables from root to top, sauteing the greens in olive oil and garlic, and slices of boiled turnips. Then I tried my hand at making latkes out of them and frying them in rendered duck fat. The confetti-like mixture of the shredded turnips made for a pretty plate. And I couldn’t get over how sweet they were.

Now I’m going to assume that like me, you see turnips as one of those root vegetables that you pick up to add to a chicken soup stock, but otherwise ignore. It’s been a big mistake for me. These baby turnips in particular are not only very pretty, with their bold colors, they’re really delicious. Raw, they’re sweet with just a hint of spiciness–kind of like radishes. Cooked, they’re melt-in-your mouth sweet.

And, what I especially appreciate about them is that they’re low in carbs. So, for dealing with my diabetes, I can create dishes that I would otherwise use potatoes for and have something equally delicious but less problematic. So, I can make mashed turnips instead of mashed potatoes. Scalloped turnips. Sauteed turnips. You get the idea. And, I can eat them raw, chopped into a salad. You can’t do that with potatoes.

Making the latkes is very easy–and they’re a great way to introduce your kids or your clients’ kids to a new veggie (and maybe even yourself). Be sure to use a cast iron skillet to get them extra crispy. They’re also freezable. Reheat them straight from the freezer in a 350-degree oven until warmed through and crisp.

Baby Turnip Pancakes
Makes about two dozen, three-inch pancakes

1 pound of baby turnips, trimmed but not peeled
6 large green onions, trimmed
3 cloves garlic
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup Panko or seasoned bread crumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons fresh, chopped herbs (parsley, oregano, thyme, etc.)
salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil or rendered duck fat for frying

1. Grate the turnips coarsely, using the large holes of a box grater or food processor grater. Put the grated turnips in a colander, set over a bowl, and let the liquid drain from the turnips.

Grated baby turnips1a
2. Chop the green onions coarsely and add to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Add the garlic and pulse until the onions and garlic are minced.
3. Put all the vegetables in a large bowl and add the Panko, baking powder, herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir it all together to fully mix the ingredients.
4. Add the eggs and mix well. The batter should be moist but not runny.

Frying turnip pancakes1a
5. Heat 1/4-inch of oil or duck fat in a hot pan. Place a tiny bit of the batter in the pan. If it begins to sizzle, the fat is hot enough for the batter. Use a large spoon and drop the batter into the pan, then flatten into a pancake. Don’t crowd the pancakes by putting too many in at one time. Cook for several minutes on each side until the pancakes are golden brown. Put the pancakes on a plate with paper towels placed on top to drain the fat. Then serve (with applesauce, sour cream, or crème fraîche).

Turnip pancakes1a


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