I was introduced to the genius concept of labaneh as a latke condiment by a friend, who serves latkes exclusively with the stuff, not sour cream and definitely not applesauc. It's a subtle but unmistakable shift in latke ideology, and the full credit goes to her. Labaneh, if you're not familiar with this wonderful stuff, is a Middle Eastern savory yogurt spread that you eat with a pita, just like hummus, or dollop on things. It's a lot like Greek yogurt but more savory. Labaneh is often seasoned with sumac, a lemony spice, or za'atar, a spice blend made up of hyssop (a member of the mint family which is also, confusingly, referred to as za'atar on its own; the Hebrew word for it is ezov), sesame seeds, sumac, and depending on who you ask, maybe other spices.
I think labaneh pairs especially well with zucchini, so I especially like to serve it, plus a generous sprinkle of za'atar, with zucchini latkes. And these latkes are all zucchini, no potatoes; they're light, crisped outside, tender inside.
Sourcing labaneh and za'atar
There are national brands of labaneh, including Arz, Karoun, and Karoun Mediterranean style, all kosher certified. I've been able to find them at the regular supermarkets near me. If you can't find labaneh, you can substitute Greek yogurt, salted to taste.
As for za'atar, it varies a lot in quality and there are also regional differences, but there are also many good brands. I'm unsurprisingly partial to Israeli-style za'atar and recommend you buy an Israeli brand if you can find one. One I like that you can get online is The Spice House's Israeli-Style Za'atar (ask for a kosher certified bottle in the notes during checkout; no affiliation, I just like their stuff).
Making zucchini latkes
Zucchinis are full of water, so the key to a good zucchini latke is to squeeze out all that water with impunity. After grating the two zucchini, press them firmly into a towel-lined colander. Salt them, press them some more, let them hang out for a while, like ten minutes, then wring them out again.
When the zucchini shreds are as dry as you can get them, add in the binders to tie them all together. You only need to lightly oil your griddle and then use a cookie scoop to form small latkes. When they're golden on the first side, which should only take a few minutes, flip (with a more-versatile-than-it's-billed cookie spatula, if you happen to have one), and cook on the second side. The recipe should only take twoish rounds to cook on a two-burner griddle. You can also use a skillet (or two) to cook them if you don't have a griddle.
Griddled Zucchini Latkes with Labaneh and Za'atar (dairy)
- Food processor with coarse grating disc
- Griddle or large skillet
- 2 medium zucchini squash
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup flour, any kind - 30 g
- ¼ cup potato starch - 40 g
- 2 tsp salt
- Using your food processor's coarse shredding disc (this is the standard shredding disc usually included with the machine), process the zucchini.
- Place a colander in your sink and line it with a clean kitchen dishtowel. Dump the shredded zucchini from the food processor into the lined colander. Fold the towel over the zucchini and press down firmly with your hands, squeezing out as much moisture as you can. Open the towel, sprinkle the zucchini with salt, and leave to drain further for 10 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg. Before transferring the zucchini to the bowl, press down on it firmly again, squeezing out as much liquid as you can. Then, add to the bowl with the egg.
- Stir to combine, then add the flour and potato starch. Combine gently.
- Heat a griddle (like the kind you'd use for pancakes) or a skillet over medium heat. Add a small amount of oil or cooking spray. When hot, scoop the zucchini mixture onto the griddle using a standard (#40) cookie scoop or generous tablespoon. Cook until solid and golden on the bottom, 3-4 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed. Flip and cook on the other side.