Pass the Spaghetti Squash Latkes!

Before you shred spuds for your big latke fry, turn to spaghetti squash for a seasonal, semisweet and spiced rendition that ups the health factor.

The magician of winter produce, spaghetti squash knows a few culinary tricks. Upon first examination, the oblong shell contains only seeds and hard flesh. But put it into an oven and, ta-da, the tough interior transforms into mounds of soft, stringy ribbons, which can be used for salads, noodle stand-ins and casseroles, and as a soft resting place for fish, poultry or meat. But there is another trick in spaghetti squash's repertoire, one that is particularly perfect for the holidays: latkes.

For those on low-potassium diets or those looking to increase the health factor during the season of feasting, simply replace typical potatoes with shredded spaghetti squash when making these classic holiday pancakes. Then use a mixture of egg and flour (and, yes, a shallow fry) to give the spaghetti strands a pillowy interior and crispy crunch. And while you can stick to tradition with a blend of dried dill, black pepper and minced onions (as we do below), feel free to add other squash-friendly spices as well, like curry or an "everything bagel" seasoning of dried onion flakes, poppy seed and caraway seed.

Spaghetti Squash Latkes
Yield: 8 to 10
Active Time: 30 min
Total Time: 1 hr 15 min
One 2 1/2-pound spaghetti squash
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup minced green onion (2 green onions, bulb removed)
1/2 teaspoon dried onion flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/4 teaspoon salt-free garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt-free baking powder
Vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the whole spaghetti squash on a baking pan and pierce the outer shell with a fork, making a prick marks all over the squash. Then place the squash into the oven and roast until you can easily slice the squash in half with a knife, about 45 minutes to an hour. Then let the squash cool, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Then cut the squash in half lengthwise and use a fork to rake the interior, making noodlelike strands (makes about 1 1/2 cups). Place the strands in your hands or a cheesecloth and then squeeze until you get out all the excess liquid. Then place the strands in a medium mixing bowl, and add the egg, green onion, dried onion flakes, dill, garlic powder and black pepper. Use a fork or wooden spoon to mix until well combined.

In a smaller mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Then add the dry ingredients to the squash mixture and stir again until combined. Set aside.

Line a cooling rack or 2 large plates with paper towels. Then add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. To test when the oil is ready, simply place the end of a wooden spoon into the pan. When little bubbles surround the spoon, the oil is ready to go.

Using your hands, form patties about 2 1/2 inches wide and 1/2-inch tall, and carefully place them in the hot oil, cooking about 4 patties at a time or whatever your pan comfortably fits without crowding. Cook in the oil until the squash becomes crispy and golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Then flip and cook on the other side, another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the patties to the paper towel-lined rack or plate to drain off the excess oil, and transfer cooked patties to a baking sheet and keep warm in a 200 degree F oven until you are ready to serve. Continue until all the latke batter has been cooked.

Serve while warm. Keep leftovers in an airtight container and in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in a 375 degree F oven for 6 to 8 minutes or in the microwave for 1 minute.

Sodium Content: Spaghetti squash: 17 mg sodium per 100 g or 1 cup of cubes.

All sodium counts based on the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference release 26.

Jessica Goldman Foung began the blog SodiumGirl.com to capture her adventures in a low-sodium life. She regularly writes about salt-free flavor tips and ingredient swaps. Her first cookbook was Sodium Girl's Limitless Low-Sodium Cookbook, and she is currently working on her second, to be released in 2015.

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