On Saturday at sundown, the candles on the menorah will be lit to mark the start of Hanukkah. Even if you’re not Jewish, this is the perfect excuse to make latkes. The traditional dish combines grated potatoes with egg, matzo meal, and onions. The disks are fried and then often topped with sour cream or applesauce. This being 2012, however, chefs are over the same-old. Nowadays there are latkes mixed with carrots and parsnips and even versions starring porcini mushrooms.

Although I’ve always stuck with the original, this year I’m tempted by Blue Bonnet‘s sweet potato variety. In an unusual twist, the Mexican restaurant adds a southwestern spin with a dollop of tomatillo salsa. You can’t order the dish at the eatery—it, along with a spaghetti squash latke with pico de gallo, only appears on the catering menu—but you can make the fried cakes at home.

Sweet Potato Latkes with Tomatillo Salsa
(Makes 12–16 latkes)

1 pound sweet potatoes or yams (or a combination)
2 large beaten eggs
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
a couple sprinkles black pepper
½ cup to ¾ cup olive oil
sour cream (optional)

Peel the sweet potatoes and/or yams and coarsely grate by hand. Drain the potatoes of any excess liquid with a paper towel or clean dishcloth. Place them in a bowl and mix with beaten eggs, flour, cinnamon, sugar, salt, and pepper. In a 12-inch or slightly larger non-stick pan begin to heat up the olive oil. Pat the potato mixture into 3-inch round patties, making sure they stick together nicely. Place four latkes in the pan at a time and fry on each side—flipping often—until brown and crispy. Remove latkes from the oil and place them on a platter layered with paper towels to absorb extra oil.

Tomatillo Salsa

1 pound of tomatillos, hulled
1 head of garlic, peeled
10 to 15 habanero peppers (dependent on desired heat)
handful of cilantro
salt and pepper

Place the tomatillos in boiling water until they are soft. Cook garlic in the oven at 350° with a little olive oil until it turns brown. Mix all ingredients in a blender and purée.

To serve: Drizzle the tomatillo salsa over the sweet latkes. Top the dish with sour cream if desired.

Image courtesy of Carmel Zucker/Blue Bonnet

Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denver. You can find more of her work at daliahsinger.com.