Zucchini Latkes with Muhammara and Preserved Lemon
Muhammara, a puree made from roasted red peppers, bread crumbs and walnuts, is popular in the Middle East, and Syria in particular. Here it’s paired with finely slivered preserved lemon for a novel way to top your holiday latkes. If you can’t find preserved lemon, which is available at most Middle Eastern grocers, you can use finely slivered lemon zest instead.
For the muhammara:
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1/3 cup (1 oz./30 g) fresh bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g) coarsely chopped walnuts
- 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
For the latkes:
- 1 lb. (500 g) russet potatoes, peeled
- 1 lb. (500 g) zucchini
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled, ends trimmed and halved lengthwise
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
- Olive oil for frying
1 preserved lemon, pulp discarded and the peel very finely slivered
To make the muhammara, using tongs, hold the bell pepper over the flame of a gas burner, turning it as needed, until charred and blistered on all sides. Alternatively, preheat the broiler, place the peppers on a baking sheet and broil, turning as needed, until blackened on all sides. Place the bell pepper in a small bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until cool. Peel off the blackened skin and remove the stem and seeds.
In a food processor, combine the roasted bell pepper, bread crumbs, walnuts, olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, paprika, salt and red pepper flakes. Pulse until the ingredients are thoroughly combined and the mixture forms a chunky puree. Set aside.
Preheat an oven to 250°F (120°C). Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
To make the latkes, using the fine grating attachment of a food processor, grate the potatoes, zucchini and onion into a bowl. Transfer the mixture to a kitchen towel and squeeze to remove the excess liquid.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with salt and pepper. Add the grated potato, zucchini and onion and the flour and toss to thoroughly combine.
In a large fry pan over medium heat, pour olive oil to a depth of 1/2 inch (12 mm). Heat the oil until almost smoking. Working in batches, drop the batter into the oil, using 1 heaping Tbs. per latke. Press down on the latkes with the back of a spatula and cook until crisp and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the latkes to the prepared baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven while cooking the remaining latkes.
To serve, top each latke with a dollop of the muhammara and a few slivers of the preserved lemon. Serve immediately. Makes about 3 dozen latkes; serves 12.