Easy Vegan Potato Pancakes - Oil Free Latkes!
Who doesn’t love latkes? This classic Hanukkah treat is essentially shredded potato pancakes, so what’s not to love? Just one thing; latkes are traditionally fried in oil, so they’re not the healthiest and certainly not compliant with a whole food plant-based diet that’s free of added salt, oil, and sugar.
We always enjoy challenging ourselves to create healthy versions of traditional (but not so healthy) favorites, so today we’re going to create an oil-free vegan spinach and artichoke latke to help you keep the holidays healthy this year. We even have a simple “sour cream” recipe to go with these at the end so keep reading!
There’s not a lot of chopping involved so this recipe is relatively quick and easy. The most time spent on these healthy latkes is the baking time. We love easy holiday recipes like this because they allow us to focus on family, friends, and fun more than the food, which is what actually makes the holidays so special.
Let’s get started by making our flax “eggs”. Flax “eggs” are a fantastic substitute for chicken eggs in many baking recipes. You certainly won’t be able to make an omelet on the stove with them, but they’ll bind dry ingredients for baking just as well as a chicken egg. Making a flax “egg” couldn’t be simpler; just add 3 tablespoons of water to 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed. It takes several minutes for the flaxseed to soak up the water and create its characteristic gelatinous texture, which is why we always mix the flax “egg” first thing when making a recipe that calls for it.
Next, grab a bag of frozen spinach and thaw it out by placing it in the refrigerator the night before. If you forget this step it’s not a problem; you can put the spinach in a strainer and run water over it. It’ll thaw out in no time. No matter the thawing method, the spinach will be rather wet once it’s defrosted. If we add it to our recipe as is, it’ll add too much moisture and make mushy, pasty latkes and no one wants that!
Therefore, we need to get as much moisture out as possible. You could squeeze it out in a paper towel or kitchen towel, but that can get messy so we put the spinach in a chinois (fine mesh strainer) and used the back of a spoon to push out as much moisture as we could.
Next, we bought a bag of frozen artichoke hearts from Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s is the only place we’ve found frozen artichoke hearts without anything added. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, you could use canned artichokes; just put them in a strainer and rinse off the brine. We removed the stemmy parts for this recipe and just used the thin leaves. We did this again to reduce the moisture content.
Now it’s time to get the potatoes ready. We like to put our potatoes in a bowl of cold water as we’re peeling them to prevent the ones we’ve already peeled from oxidizing and turning brown but it won’t make or break the recipe. Once the potatoes are peeled, shred them up! The fastest way by far to shred potatoes is in a food processor with a grater attachment. Simply feed the potatoes through the shoot and they’re ready to go in under a minute. If you don’t have a food processor, you can grate them by hand of course; it’ll just increase your prep time.
Once the potatoes are shredded, we need to focus again on getting as much moisture out of them as we can. You can dump the potato shreds onto a paper towel or cloth kitchen towel, roll them up, then twist and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. The theme of this recipe is obviously “the drier, the better”!
All that’s left for us to do is combine everything together. Add the potatoes, artichokes, and spinach to a large mixing bowl. Next, we’ll add some onion powder, garlic powder, and chickpea flour. Chickpea flour will help absorb more liquid and work with the flax “eggs” to help bind all the ingredients. Finally, add the flax “egg” and mix everything together; we recommend getting your hands in there to mix it up; mixing with your hands will help distribute the ingredients more evenly plus it’s just fun! If you’ve got some kiddos running around, I’m sure they’ll be happy to help with this part.
Once you’ve got the mixture ready, shape your latkes by putting a scoop in your hands and flattening it into a disc shape. You can make your latkes as thick or thin as you like but the thinner you make them, the crispier they’ll turn out. You can place the formed latkes on a parchment-lined baking sheet or use a baking rack nested in a baking sheet to create more airflow around them, which will help with crisping. These will also do very well in an air fryer. Either way, they’ll need to be turned halfway through baking to ensure they’re evenly browned; they’ll need about 20-25 minutes in the oven, then another 15 after flipping.
While the latkes are baking, let’s get the sour cream going. If you’re not using a high speed blender such as a Vitamix, make sure you soak the cashews in water for 2-4 hours ahead of time. Then, just add a cup of cashews, a half cup of water, some lemon juice and apple cider vinegar to the blender and whiz them together until they turn into a delicious, creamy dip.
If overt fats aren’t part of your current meal plan, it’s perfectly fine to leave the sour cream out. Latkes are traditionally paired with sour cream and applesauce, so you won’t have to go without a delicious topping for them either way.