Parsnips Weiser FarmsI’ve always been a purist of a certain ilk when it comes to Hanukah Latkes: grated, never pureed; thin not thick; pan-fried not deep-fried; and always potato. Until now.

Lately, I’ve been completely entranced by the velvety parsnips showing up at the farmers’ markets. Creamy in color beneath their rugged exteriors, they are sweet, lemony, and spicy all in one package—compelling enough to make me finally wonder, what if I substituted them into my family’s traditional potato latke recipe?

Parsnips are also a bit starchy, which is a good thing, since latkes work best when the vegetable’s natural starch helps hold the batter together so that you don’t have to add too much flour. And in real life (the other 357 days of the year), parsnips seem to me to be a more natural companion to apples and applesauce than potatoes. So….

Parsnip Latkes

I love when a simple substitution works; no other change necessary and you get a whole new experience. And oh my goodness, parsnip latkes are delicious! They’re more delicate in texture and have a lovely flavor complexity. I won’t give up potato latkes, but I definitely just expanded my pancake universe. Serve either type with baked, smashed apples. Hear this recipe on KCRW’s “Good Food” on December 17, and read it here on the “Good Food” blog.

About our family latke recipe: it’s inspired by the one in the hilarious cookbook, Love and Knishes by Sara Kasdan, that my mother found in a used book shop fifty-some years ago.