With the holiday of Chanukah, our celebration of oil and light just around the corner, here are some fun recipes that take a creative twist on an old theme: Latkes. Instead of the typical oily potato latkes, why not try some of these different ideas?

Potato-Beet latkes

  • 1 small onion, pureed
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and shredded
  • 2 medium sized beets, cooked, drained and shredded
  • 1/2 cup ground walnuts
  • 1/2 cup flour or potato flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

In a food processor fitted with the sharp "S" blade, puree the onions until liquidy. Add the eggs to the pureeing onions, one at a time. Turn off the processor and change the blade to the shredder blade. Put the potatoes and beets through the shredder. Pour all contents into a large bowl. Add the walnuts, flour, salt and pepper and mix well.

Heat some olive or canola oil in a non-stick skillet. Using a large spoon or ladle, start frying your "latkes". Spoon portions that will be approximately 2 or 3 inches in diameter and allow them to brown nicely on the first side. Flip them over and continue to fry on the second side until they are nice and crispy on the second side. Remove from pan onto plates lined with paper towels to drain off some of the excess oil. Serve immediately with sour cream, cream cheese, or applesauce (or all three!) on the side.

Cheese Latkes

Kids everywhere love this one!

  • 1 cup any kind of American cream cheese OR 1 container (250 grams) 5% Israeli white cheese
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese OR 1 container Israeli leben
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups white flour or a half-half mixture with whole wheat and white flours
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 packet vanilla sugar or 2 tsp. vanilla liquid
  • small pinch of salt

Mix together all ingredients in a bowl by hand, or, for a really smooth texture, blend them with a hand beater. Spray a heavy frying skillet with baking spray and spoon out the cheese mixture by small ladlefuls and fry on both sides until golden brown. Serve immediately. Goes great with strawberry or blueberry preserves.

Chanukah "Light" Latkes

This recipe keeps the oil and fat calories at bay...

  • 2 large potatoes, scrubbed and unpeeled
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 small carrot
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3-4 Tbls. flour
  • Pinch celery seed
  • Scant 1/4 tsp. each curry and fennel
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

Grate potatoes alternately with onion and carrot in the food processor. Drain. Mix with remaining ingredients. Spray a good quality non-stick frying pan with Pam or another oil spray. Drop mixture by heaping tablespoons into hot frying pan and flatten with a fork to make the latkes thin. Fry on medium - high heat until brown. Flip over and brown the other side as well. Serve with applesauce. Yields 16-20 thin latkes.

Tuna Latkes

These make for a fun and different way to serve an otherwise boring can of tuna fish. They can even be used as a sort of burger, when placed on a bun, along with some lettuce, tomato slices, and onion rings...

  • 1 medium potato, peeled and boiled
  • 1 small onion, diced and sautéed
  • 1 stalk celery, diced and sautéed
  • 1 can tuna, mostly drained and flaked
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 scallion, diced
  • 1/2 small carrot, shredded, optional
  • 2 Tbls. matzo meal or whole wheat flour

In a small pot, place the potato and boil until soft. Drain and mash. Reserve for later use.

Place onion and celery in a small frying pan and sautee for 7 minutes until just turning brown. Put them in a large bowl, together with everything else. Add mashed potato and combine by hand until well mixed.

Heat a non-stick skillet and spray with some oil spray. Make small balls out of this mixture by hand and lay them on the skillet to brown. Flatten slightly with a fork, taking care not to break them. Fry on both sides until browned and slightly crispy. Serve immediately. Serves 2.

Enjoy all these recipes and have a Happy Chanukah!