The Edgy Veggie

Potato cakes perfect for this year’s double holiday


Side dish

Thanksgivekkah Mashed Potato Cakes

Using olive oil instead of the usual butter, milk, sour cream and other dairy gives mashed potatoes a startling silkiness. You can make a version equally as delicious plus fiber and protein by substituting mashed white beans (like cannellini or navy beans) for potatoes and using half the oil. Radical, we know, but worth trying the next time Thanksgivekkah rolls around.

1 pound yellow potatoes, peeled and quartered or cut into coarse chunks

3 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves or chives

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose or whole-wheat flour

Additional olive oil for frying

Place peeled and sliced potatoes and whole garlic cloves in a soup pot. Add just enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and cook until potatoes are just tender, not mushy and can be pierced with a fork or knife, 15-20 minutes.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the water used for cooking the potatoes, then drain.

Mash potatoes and garlic together, until they form a thick paste. Add olive oil, grated lemon zest and chopped thyme leaves.

Gently stir in 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water and mix until the potatoes are light but not runny. Add another cooking water a tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency you like. Season generously with sea salt and pepper. Potatoes may be made up to this point and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

To make potato cakes, pour flour into a large shallow bowl. Season with sea salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Take about 1/3 cup mashed potatoes, shape into a patty, then dip into the flour. Turn and do the other side, so the cake is evenly coated. Shake off excess flour. Repeat with remaining mashed potatoes, making 4 cakes.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. When it starts to shimmer, add cakes, leaving plenty of room in between to avoid crowding. Fry potato cakes for about 8 minutes, or until they smell delectable and form a golden brown crust on the bottom. Gently flip and do the other side for about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and blot on paper towels. Serve at once or set aside to cool. Wrap well and refrigerate.

To reheat, heat oven to 350 degrees. Place potato cakes on a cookie sheet. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until heated through and have a crispy crust. Makes 4.

Per potato cake: 188 calories (33 percent from fat), 7 g fat, (0.9 g saturated, 4.9 g monounsaturated), 0 cholesterol, 3.5 g protein, 28.4 g carbohydrate, 2.1 g fiber, 8 mg sodium.

They’re calling it Thanksgivekkah, this year’s odd mashup of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. The last time this happened was in 1888, more than 250 years after the Pilgrims observed that first Thanksgiving in 1621.

At core, both Thanksgiving and Hanukkah give thanks for surviving religious persecution. Both holidays are observed with a feast with an animal at its center. But we have come a far distance since1621, and even farther since 134, when the Maccabees led the battle for Jewish freedom.

Sure, turkey or brisket has been the mainstay of the feast all these years, but we’ve evolved, and let’s be honest — the main attraction at both holidays is the humble spud. Potatoes are mashed and anointed with fats at Thanksgiving, grated, shaped and fried into those addictive pancakes known as latkes at Hannukah.

A unique holiday like Thanksgivekkah warrants its own unique choice — to spare the animals and give in to our potato passion. Behold the Thanksgivekkah mashed potato cake.

Mashed potatoes are formed into patties, coated with flour for a crunchy crust and pan-fried. You get the fluffy reward of mashed potatoes, the crispy fried goodness of latkes, and an advantage over both — the mashed potatoes cakes can be made in advance and reheated in the oven.

At the holidays, we want to create celebration, togetherness and gratitude — the real thanks that prompted that first Thanksgiving. That’s what we bring to the table.

A meal that causes no harm only increases the love. And here we do have precedence, straight from the Bible — Proverbs 15:17. “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.”

The next Thanksgivekkah won’t happen for another 77,798 years. To be here and celebrate now is lot to be grateful for. Here’s to a happy Thanksgivekkah, and pass the potatoes.

Miami writer Ellen Kanner is the author of “Feeding the Hungry Ghost: Life, Faith and What to Eat for Dinner.”

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