Baked Latkes with Beet and Avocado Salad

February 9th, 2014

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All politics aside, I love the winter Olympics. As the daughter and granddaughter of athletes, I grew up in a household that payed very much attention to all important sporting events. Winter Olympics was always our ultimate favourite, when all other things in life came to a sort of standstill and the whole family would be glued to the television, biting our nails and cheering (it got very loud at times!). This year’s Olympic games are even more special to me than usual. Sochi, the summer getaway town of my youth, where I stayed with my aunt in her ancient house with an outdoor shower and palm and fig trees in the backyard, holds an incredibly special place in my heart. I still dream about the cool, deep blue waters of the Black Sea and its pebbled beaches. The fact that the Games are taking place right there fills me with so much excitement, nostalgia, and pride. My cousins still live in Sochi and I get many daily, detailed, first-hand reports. I’ve always thought that Olympics should be about the olympians who invest their entire lives into this one time opportunity, and it saddens me when politics get in the way.

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Now to the recipes. To me, this Russian-inspired comfort dish is the most appropriate one to make during the winter Olympics in Russia. If I absolutely had to choose my most beloved Russian dish, potato pancakes (draniki as we call them) would be the one. Traditionally fried, they don’t often appear on our table for obvious health reasons. This time I tried baking the latkes and was amazed by the little to no difference in taste. Great news for those of you who, like me, have an aversion to frying – goodbye to the greasy mess, smoke and achy stomach. And I can still indulge in my most beloved dish, once in a while.

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Beet salad is also a very common Russian side dish, usually made with mayonnaise and sometimes cheese. I replaced traditional mayo with an avocado ‘mayonnaise’ and eliminated the cheese. Another pleasant surprise, the taste is very similar, and even better!
My two favourite sports to watch are Ice Skating and Biathlon, back to that!

draniki

Baked Potato Latkes

Note: The amount of pancakes you end up with somewhat depends on the type of shredder that you use. I use a very sharp mandolin, with a shredding attachment that produces more volume than a regular box grater. For me, this recipe yields 30 small pancakes.
I make my baked latkes in a muffin pan, if you don’t have one, see #6 for alternate baking directions.

2 lb Yukon gold potatoes (or you can mix it up, I used Yukon and purple potatoes)
1 small yellow onion
1 egg
1/3 cup oat flour (grind rolled oats in a blender or food processor)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper – to taste
olive oil for brushing

1. Peel and shred the potatoes. Place them into a colander and thoroughly rinse with cold water. Leave to drain in the colander, while peeling and shredding the onion.
2. Shake the water excess off the potatoes as much as possible and transfer them into a large bowl. Add in shredded onion, egg, flour, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
3. Squeeze the mixture between your fingers, one small portion at a time, and try to make it as dry as possible. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
4. Thoroughly grease a muffin pan(s) with olive oil. Distribute the potato mixture between muffin holes, firmly pressing it into the bottom to achieve a regular pancake thickness. Brush with olive oil and bake for 40 minutes. Let cool slightly before removing pancakes from the holes.
5. Serve with sour cream/Greek yogurt and Beet-Avocado salad.
6. If you don’t have a muffin pan, preheat oven to 425 F (220 C). Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease it with olive oil. Form 12 pancakes with your hands, placing them on the sheet as you go. Press with a spoon to flatten them and brush with olive oil. Bake for 12 minutes, flip and brush the other side with oil as well. Bake for another 8 minutes, flipping one more time and bake for additional 5 minutes.

Beet Salad with Avocado Mayonnaise

4 small to medium beet roots
2 ripe but firm avocados
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper – to taste
1 garlic clove – minced
about 1/3 cup minced parsley and dill
handful walnuts – chopped

1. Bake, boil or steam the beets until fully cooked. Cool, peel and shred them, placing into a large mixing bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, mash flesh of 1 avocado with a fork. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon over it. Add olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.
3. Add the avocado ‘mayo’ into the shredded beets, along with the garlic, herbs and walnuts. Mix well to incorporate. Adjust salt and pepper.
4. Right before serving, cut another avocado into cubes, squeeze the juice of the remaining 1/2 lemon over it and add to the salad.

Tags: avocado, beets, latkes, mains, potato, recipe

  • I’ve never been that interested in the Olympics but I do love any excuse to make theme food! And beets are my favorite. That avocado mayo is about to go on EVERYTHING I eat.

  • Irina says:

    Thank you for sharing this recipe, I love draniki! They bring back so many great memories from my childhood.

    The politics and negativity surrounding these Olympics is truly hurtful. The Olympics are supposed to be about celebrating unity and the incredible abilities of the planet’s top athletes. The fact that all these athletes stand together in one stadium, politics/social tensions/conflicts aside, should not be lost on the world’s viewers. It’s a beautiful thing! All in all, I couldn’t be prouder to see my country of birth host the games this year.

  • Shanna says:

    Yum! My goodness, looks & sounds beautiful! Pure perfection, a great tribute.

  • Jael says:

    Figure skating is what I like most in the winter Olympics:)
    Your latkes and everything on the plate look absolutely delicious:)

  • amy chaplin says:

    This looks so delicious! I love how the pancakes look “nest like” and the purple is such a nice interesting touch. Beets and avocado are favorites, so it all sounds perfect.

  • elle says:

    Ok, we need a link to that mandoline shredder! I’ve never seen one that produces that fine a cut – julienne, yes, but this is even more finely done. Could you possibly find the link on Amazon, perhaps? Thank you! (I grew up eating latkes and have never seen them prepared this way – fascinating and beautiful, thank you for the recipe!).

  • I could never master this dish but i am determine to try one more time, thank you for the inspiration, Anya. It looks absolutely gorgeous. And as a Russian sole i am in love with potatoes.

    Regarding the Olympic games, we do not watch tv at home, although i love figure skating and managed to catch a bit of it on the web. Incredible!!!

    Overall, i get the Olympic spirit but i cannot agree with the amount of money spent. The country needs schools, hospitals and so on. It is really unfortunate that we build hotels and stadiums to amuse and show how great we are. Russia is a great country because of its people not because of the materialistic objects we can build. People first, attempts to impress the west second. This is my opinion.

    Thank you for the recipe, Anya.

  • cheri says:

    Beautiful story, beautiful salad, never thought of adding beets and avocado together before. Brilliant!

  • Stunning dish and lovely story – I hope to some day 1. See the Olympics live 2. Go to Sochi!

  • These potato latkes look so crispy! But what really draws my attention is the beet salad with avocado. Can’t wait to make this dish.

  • […] food stores and Italian markets. 5. Other add-ons: Sliced cucumbers Cherry tomatoes Sliced avocado This shredded beet salad Sauerkraut Fresh salad greens Goat’s and/or sheep’s milk feta […]

  • eilo says:

    Hi there! I just had to try this recipe today because it looked so good. I added a couple of things to salad to clear my fridge… Some shredded carrot and kale. That avocado mayo is pure heaven! But I’m afraid I failed on the Latkes. They just didn’t turn out golden and crispy like yours :( Any ideas what I might have done wrong? Many thanks

    • Anya says:

      Eilo, glad that you liked the avocado mayo so much; I can’t get enough of it either. As far as latkes go, it’s hard to tell without observing the whole process. A couple of things come to mind – the type of shredder that you used may be very different from mine and the thickness of potato pieces could possibly effect the final result. Another possibility may be the way you squeeze that extra liquid out. If the mixture was too moist, it could prevent the latkes from crisping up, and the quality of potato you’re using may not behave the same as Yukon Gold.

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