Chanukah – the Jewish holiday of lights (and oil) is two days away. I heard a woman lament the other day that Christmas smells so good and cozy, with all the spices and the pines, and all we Jews get is the smell of oil around the house, because of all the frying we do around Chanukah. To me, though, the smell of fried Israeli jelly donuts (soufganiot) brings back pleasant memories of passing many fun hours with my mom in the kitchen, helping her to prepare soufganiot and levivot (latkes) for the evening.
In our house, the soufganiot are a much bigger deal than the latkes, but because I don’t think I will get to make them this year, I chose to represent Chanukah with a latke recipe. The recipe, invented in my kitchen, is different than the usual potato latkes that are so familiar in American Jewish cuisine. This recipe captures the freshness and flavors of the Mediterranean. The combination of zucchini and mint is well known in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, and I’m sure there are other versions of this recipe floating around the Internet.
The secret in the recipe is the mint. Don’t try to skimp on it. If anything, go the other way – the more, the better.
When grating the zucchini, don’t discard of the zucchini ends (the bottom end of the zucchini). Check out my recipe Zucchini Ends in Garlic to learn what you can do with them.
5 large zucchini (about 2lb)
2 cups chopped mint leaves
1 medium onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup flour
½- 1 cup oil for frying
Grate the zucchini using a food processor or a grater. Place the grated zucchini in a colander. Take a handful of grated zucchini and using the palms of your hands squeeze well to extract all the liquid.
Place the squeezed zucchini in a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Cover the bottom of a large pan with oil and heat.
Using your hands, make patties out of the zucchini mix and place in the preheated oil. Alternatively, use a spoon to spoon the zucchini mix into the pan and flatten it lightly.
Fry for 1-2 minutes until edges are golden brown, then flip and fry the other side.
Remove from the pan and place on a tray covered with paper towel to absorb extra fat.
Serve warm or at room temperature together with Tzatziki, or Greek yogurt mixed with minced garlic.