While (im)patiently awaiting planting season and dreaming of fresh spring produce at the farmers markets later this month, I'm still making the most of root vegetables, those hardy overwintered beets and carrots, potatoes and turnips.
One of the best ways to get my family to eat more veg and herbs is by frying them up into crisp, savory pancakes. I like a combination of at least two (beet + potato or carrot + potato + parsnip) plus lots of herbs for color and flavor. Make sure to use a good well-seasoned skillet. When shallow pan frying, the oil should be hot enough that it starts to sizzle and dance but not smoke. If you have any leftovers, heat them up in a dry skillet; serve with eggs and smoked fish for brunch or make smaller versions as an appetizer or a side dish.
Savory potato pancakes
Makes 12 to 14 pancakes
1 large russet potato, coarsely grated (about 1 pound)
1 Yukon gold potato, coarsely grated (about 5 ounces)
1 medium carrot, coarsely grated (3 ounces)
2 green onions, minced
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, dill, mint, thyme leaves, cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
Pinch ground cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup all-purpose flour or potato flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Vegetable oil, for shallow pan frying
Serve with: sour cream or crème fraiche; smoked salmon; apple sauce
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Scrub vegetables of any dirt and coarsely grate them (using a box grater or food processor) into a large bowl. Add green onions, herbs, salt, pepper, cayenne, cornstarch, flour and eggs and stir gently to combine.
2. Pour about 3 tablespoons of oil into a (10- to 12-inch) heavy-bottom skillet. When the oil is hot — it should shimmer and sizzle — drop 4 to 5 (1/4 cup) portions of potato mixture into the pan and lightly flatten with the back of a spatula. Let cook about 2 minutes, flip and let cook another 2 minutes until crisp and golden brown. (If getting too brown, lower heat slightly. If steaming and not crisping up, add a little more oil and increase heat.) Remove from pan to a wire rack set over a cookie sheet; place in oven to keep warm while frying the next batch. Serve with sour cream, smoked fish and apple sauce, if desired.