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Southwest Latkes with Creamy Cilantro Dip

These are the most labor-intensive of all the latkes, but well worth the effort. They will go fast at a party; so, be prepared to make a lot!!! To keep latkes together while frying, press each one slightly between two spoons to remove the excess moisture.

1 red bell pepper
6 ounces baby spinach
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped (use gloves)
1 8-ounce can of corn, drained well
½ bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
4 ounces cotija cheese, crumbled
sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup white whole wheat flour
2 large eggs, beaten
canola oil, for frying
creamy cilantro dip

chef’s knife
cutting board
vinyl gloves
brown paper lunch bag
large skillet
brown paper grocery bags
cheese cloth
large bowl
large spoons
dry measuring cups
2 teaspoons

1. Over a gas burner, roast the red pepper until black and charred all around. (Alternatively, cut peppers in half. Place cut side down on baking sheet and place under broiler until charred.) Place in a brown paper lunch bag and let steam for at least 15 minutes.
2. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Add spinach and cook down. Remove from skillet and allow to cool.
3. Heat skillet again over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil and, when oil is hot, add the diced onion and cook until just beginning to soften.
4. Add the minced garlic and chopped jalapeño to the pan. Cook about 1 minute.
5. Cover and reduce heat to low. Allow to sweat for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent.
6. Drain mixture on brown paper grocery bag and put in large bowl.
7. Remove roasted red bell pepper from bag. With gloves, remove charred skin, stem, seeds and white membrane. Cut pepper into thin strips and add to onions.
8. Squeeze out as much moisture as possible from spinach through a cheese cloth.
9. Roughly chop spinach and add to the onion mixture.
10. When all ingredients are at room temperature, add the drained can of corn, chopped cilantro leaves, crumbled cotija cheese, salt and pepper and mix.
11. Add flour and eggs and mix well.
12. Heat ¼ inch oil in the skillet.
13. Drop mixture by spoonfuls into hot oil, leaving as much of the liquid in the bowl. Cook until golden around the edges. Flip, and continue frying for about another 1-2 minutes until cooked through.
14. Drain latkes on brown paper grocery bags.Serve immediately with creamy cilantro dip.

Yields about 2 dozen 2-3-inch latkes
© 2008 by Allison Lattman

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