Zucchini Latkes With Parmesan, Pine Nuts, and Basil

Zucchini Latkes With Parmesan, Pine Nuts, and Basil

Zucchini latkes get a pesto-inspired twist with lemon zest, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and basil. [Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Zucchini make a great latke base, but they also have a very delicate flavor that can easily be overwhelmed. Chopped basil and lemon zest help that light, grassy quality shine, while pine nuts and Parmesan cheese give it a pesto-inspired twist. These latkes are especially tender and refreshingly light.

Why this recipe works:

  • Squeezing the patty mixture in cheesecloth helps eliminate excess moisture, making results more consistent and helping latkes brown more efficiently.
  • Shredding ingredients in a food processor ensures a hearty, consistent size and shape for the latkes.

Note: The exact amount of matzo meal needed will depend on exactly how moist your vegetables are. Start with the suggested amount, then add more if needed, working one tablespoon at a time until patties can be formed that stick together in your hands.

  • Yield:Makes about 24 latkes
  • Active time: 1 hour
  • Total time:1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini, trimmed and shredded on the shredding disk of a food processor (6 cups shredded)
  • 4 1/2 cups chopped onion (from approximately 5 medium onions)
  • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, trimmed, and shredded on the shredding disk of a food processor (3 cups shredded)
  • 3/4 cup loosely packed grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup matzo meal, plus more as needed (see note above)
  • Canola or peanut oil, for frying
  • Applesauce and sour cream, for serving

Directions

  1. 1.

    Working in roughly 2-cup batches, wrap zucchini, potatoes, and onions in cheesecloth that has been folded over twice. Tie corners around the handle of a wooden spoon and twist bundle until liquid flows out and vegetables are dry. Add squeezed vegetables to a large mixing bowl and toss to combine thoroughly.

  2. 2.

    Add Parmesan, basil, lemon zest, and pine nuts, stirring to combine. Mix in eggs and matzo meal (you should be able to form patties that just stick together in your hands; if it is too wet, add more matzo meal 1 tablespoon at a time, until patties can be properly formed). Stir in salt and pepper.

  3. 3.

    Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until a shred of potato immediately bubbles. Form a small amount of latke mixture into a disk and fry on both sides until golden brown to test for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

  4. 4.

    Form patties about 3 inches wide and 1 inch thick in the center and slide into pan, cooking no more than 4 at a time. Fry until a golden brown crust forms on bottom, then flip using a slotted spatula and fork and fry until golden brown on other side and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes per side. If a darker crust is desired, continue cooking on each side to desired doneness.

  5. 5.

    Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels and let cool for 2 minutes, then serve with applesauce and sour cream at the table.