Monday, November 25, 2013

Baked Butternut Squash Latkes with Homemade Cinnamon Applesauce {November Mystery Dish}

It's almost Thanksgivikkah! For those not in the know, Hanukkah comes very early this year, and, as a result, happens to overlap with Thanksgiving. This is very exciting, not just because the last time this happened was over 100 years ago, and the next won't be until the year 79811 (do you think we'll finally have flying cars by then!?), but because it presents nearly endless food hybrid opportunities.

And because of this:

Meet the majestic Menurkey (Menorah + Turkey). Who thinks of these things? I wish it were me. I looked into getting one but they are crazy expensive for an item that you won't be able to use for another 78,000 years, and there is no guarantee they will deliver before Thanksgiving.

So, instead of a Menurkey, I am reveling in the many food-related pairings that this once-in-a-lifetime holiday hybrid offers. When I think of Hanukkah, of course I think of latkes slathered with applesauce. That's a no-brainer. But to make them Thanksgivikkah-worthy, I made them out of butternut squash instead of the traditional shredded white potatoes.

You can, of course, fry the latkes but baking them makes them a lot lighter and lighter latkes mean more room in your stomach (for more food). You can also, obviously, make these with potatoes - white, or sweet - but potatoes are starchier and, at least in my experience, tend to expand in your stomach more. So butternut squash have the added benefit of maybe leaving a little more breathing room (for pie) in your stomach. 

Hanukkah 2012: Sweet Potato Latkes
Last year, I made these with sweet potatoes, but this month, I was inspired by the Mystery Dish ingredients, which included butternut squash, rosemary and apples. If you're not familiar with this challenge, the Mystery Dish Challenge is a monthly exercise in which 12 bloggers (11 regulars + 1 guest) create a dish out of a list of ingredients chosen by one of the participants. Last month, I chose the ingredients, and made Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes. The month before that, I made those pig-sprinkle-topped maple bacon cookies. How could we forget the pig sprinkles? Or, I guess, the bacon cookies. Those were pretty memorable. Anyway, Mystery Dish ingredients always lead to some pretty fun dishes.

This month, Krista (who blogs at Joyful Healthy Eats) really brought her A-game and presented us with an extremely challenging list of ingredients, including lamb, apple, butternut squash, puff pastry, Frosted Flakes, goat cheese, rosemary, cherry pie filling, spinach and coriander. We had to use a minimum of three of the ingredients on the list. 

Typically, I can look at a list and pretty quickly invent a dish with a few of the ingredients, but until I realized that our post was going to fall so close to Thanksgiving, I was really stumped. Kudos to Krista for putting the "challenge" in Mystery Dish Challenge. And hey, if I can't have a Menurkey, at least I can have an unconventional latke that appropriately captures the hybrid nature of Thanksgivikkah.

I used two of the ingredients for the latkes themselves (squash and rosemary). The latkes alone don't really seem like a big deal, but trust me, by the time you are done baking the flavors together, it's a whole new ballgame. The squash is little sweet and bright, while the woodsy rosemary is a perfect compliment to bring it back to the realm of "savory", and make it taste like dinner, rather than dessert. And these are very unfussy to make. To shape them, just scoop them into blobs, push slightly to secure the blob into a fritter shape, and lay them on your baking sheet. And they can definitely be made ahead of time. In fact, the longer the latkes sit, particularly after they are baked, the more the rosemary and squash will settle in together, creating a deeper and more complex flavor.

So, the latkes only cover 2 ingredients, but lucky for me, apple sauce is a latke's natural companion so there was ingredient #3 (believe me, I tried as hard as I could to use those Frosted Flakes...). Homemade applesauce is deceptively quick and simple to make, but if you have the time to let the sauce slowly simmer - or at least sit! - for a few hours, you won't be sorry. Again, the longer the sweet and spice flavors have to mingle, the more satisfied your taste buds will be. You can easily make this applesauce ahead, refrigerate for a couple of days (in an airtight container, of course) and reheat just before serving.

Although this dish is fantastic right out of the gate, like any good Thanksgiving meal, it makes absolutely stellar leftover leftovers. And before you ask, you definitely don't have to celebrate Hanukkah to enjoy a good latke. Latkes for everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Thanksgivikkah to all.

Butternut Squash Latkes with Cinnamon Spiced Applesauce
Buttercream Fanatic (2013)

For the applesauce:
6 very large apples (Approximately 3 lbs total)
1/2 cup water or apple cider
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon

For the latkes:
1 medium butternut squash*, peeled and grated
1 shallot, diced thin
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 Tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

*If you prefer, you can easily substitute sweet potato for squash.

Make the applesauce:
Peel and core the apples, and chop them into about 2-inch chunks. Put them, along with the water, lemon juice and cinnamon, in a medium stock pot and mix a few times to combine. Cook over medium heat for about 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. As you stir, use the back of the spoon to mash the apples gently until you reach the consistency you desire. Turn off the flame, put the top on the pot, and allow to sit for 2-3 hours minimum, which gives the cinnamon and apple flavors time to really do their thing.

Make the latkes:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Cover a baking sheet with a nonstick pad or liberally coat with nonstick spray.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the shallot and squash together to mix. Add the egg and mix to coat all of the squash and onion, then add the salt, flour and rosemary, and toss to combine.

Use a large serving spoon (or your hands) to scoop out baseball-sized portions of batter and lightly press to shape into a patty. Mine were about 3" wide. Place them about an inch apart on the cookie sheet. Remember - no need to worry about them spreading like cookies would!

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the tops are crisped and the edges are dark brown. Serve immediately. If there are any leftovers (doubtful!), store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to five days.

Makes 8-12 latkes.

Looking for more mouthwatering recipes for the season? 
Look no further than the Mystery Dish Challenge! Check out what everyone else made with the mystery ingredients (and prepare to salivate...):


If you like this recipe, follow Buttercream Fanatic for more


  1. Um, a Menurkey? I don't know, I'd think I'd get one just to say I was there for Thanksgikkah!

  2. YUM! I've never had Latkes before, but love the idea of it. These look wonderful, and I love the combo of the butternut squash with the applesauce. Great recipe Nora! :)

    Krista @ Joyful Healthy Eats

  3. I love latkes of any kind, butternut squash sounds delicious. I can't believe that the holidays overlapped 100 years ago, but not again for 78,000 years! Wow, Happy Thanksgivikkah!

  4. My mouth is watering! Shocking, but I just had a butternut squash for the first time a few weeks ago. Um, delicious!

    That said, this recipe is right in my lane! Hope you have an amazing Thanksgivikkah ;)

  5. Zainab @ Blahnik BakerNovember 25, 2013 at 9:43 PM

    Happy Thanksgivakkah!! This is so very creative and I love the way you think.

    'lighter latkes mean more room in your stomach" Truth!! I hope you have a great holiday weekend with your family.


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