For the last 100 years, Russets have reigned as the king of the American potato pancake. But more recently, creative home cooks have begun to augment the “traditional” latke recipe (which, according to Matthew Goodman’s Jewish Food: The World at Table, likely dates back to mid-19th century Russia), by experimenting with alternative types of potatoes (purple, sweet, etc.) as well as yams, beets, rutabaga, zucchini, carrots, and other vegetables that benefit from a sizzle in shmaltz or oil.When it comes to toppings, however, the sour cream and applesauce box has proven far more challenging to escape. Perhaps that’s because it is hard to grow tired of something as delicious as a crunchy, salt-kissed latke spread with sweet applesauce or dolloped with sour cream. Still, fried potatoes–along with other root veggie latkes–provide the perfect base for a vast array of sweet and savory toppings.
So this year, try mixing and matching your latkes with a slew of store-bought and homemade toppings–you might just discover a Hanukkah miracle of your own.
Basil Pesto–brightens up any latke
Pear and Ginger Compote–applesauce’s more sophisticated cousin (recipe below)
Sour Cream mixed with Chopped Chives–a tasty update to the traditional
Aioli–spreading this creamy, garlicky French sauce on latkes nods to the Belgian tradition of dipping French fries in mayonnaise
Goat Cheese–the perfect complement for piping hot beet latkes
Ratatouille–add a poached egg, and you have a complete meal
Horseradish Sauce–where Hanukkah and Passover collide
Cranberry Sauce–a lovely Thanksgiving repeat
Mango Chutney–a thick, sweet, and spicy Indian condiment that tastes wonderful on all potato dishes, from Aloo Gobi to latkes
Greek Yogurt and Honey–even more decadent than sour cream
Apple Salsa–a fresh mix of chopped apples, onion, and cilantro lightens up the oil-laden latke
Lemon Curd–this zesty English dessert spread, made from lemon, eggs, sugar and butter, is a surprising treat on top of carrot latkes
1 1/2 teaspoons crystallized ginger, chopped
1 Tablespoon water
1 Tablespoon honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
2 bosc pears, unpeeled and roughly chopped
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring regularly until the pears soften and soak up the fragrant liquid, about 8 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Pronounced: KHAH-nuh-kah, also ha-new-KAH, an eight-day festival commemorating the Maccabees’ victory over the Greeks and subsequent rededication of the temple. Falls in the Hebrew month of Kislev, which usually corresponds with December.