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Originally published December 8, 2009 at 4:12 PM | Page modified December 9, 2009 at 12:11 PM

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Recipe: Butternut Squash and Sage Latkes

Butternut squash gives these latkes a unique taste.

For The Associated Press

It can be a pleasant surprise when a food with butter in its name turns out to be good for you, as in the case of butternut squash.

Along with other winter squashes such as acorn, delicata and pumpkin, butternut squash is loaded with vitamins A and C, plus potassium and fiber. It also is filling, has just 65 calories per cup, has almost no fat, and can have a rich flavor that justifies its name.

Butternut squash also is versatile in the kitchen. The high and dry heat of roasting is particularly good at enhancing its flavor of by caramelizing the natural sugars it contains.

For a quick and easy side, toss seeded and cubed butternut squash in a bit of olive oil and roast at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, or until quite tender. Serve it seasoned with salt and pepper, or if you like, a drizzle of maple syrup or even balsamic vinegar.

Butternut squash also sometimes can take the place of potatoes, as in these butternut squash and sage latkes for Hanukkah.

The squash and onions can be shredded using a box grater or a food processor. Be sure to squeeze as much liquid out of the shredded onion as possible. Otherwise your latkes will be too wet and fall apart in the pan.

Latkes are a traditional part of the Hanukkah celebration because the oil they are fried in symbolizes the miracle of the small amount of oil that burned for eight days when the temple was under siege.

This recipe honors that story by using a few teaspoons of olive oil to brown the latkes in the pan before they are crisped to perfection in a hot oven. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, applesauce or both.

Butternut Squash and Sage Latkes

Makes 12 servings

1 medium onion, shredded (3/4 cup)

3 cups shredded butternut squash (1 small squash)

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1/4 cup matzo meal

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

1 large egg, lightly beaten

6 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. Spread the shredded onions between 2 sheets of paper towel and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Transfer the onions to a large bowl. Add the squash, matzo meal, salt, pepper and sage, then toss to coat. Add the egg and 2 teaspoons of the oil. Toss to coat.

3. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil. Working in batches, use a 1/4 cup measure to scoop the squash mixture into the skillet, leaving several inches between each mound. Use a spatula to flatten them into roughly 3-inch pancakes.

4. Cook until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the latkes to the prepared baking sheet.

5. Bake until the latkes are crispy and hot, about 10 minutes.

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