Three Delicious Chanukah Recipes – Lotsa Latkes!
When I was young, I always looked forward to the celebration of Chanukah. Besides the eight nights of presents, it was one of the few times of the year when our kitchen witnessed frying! Today, my own kitchen does not see much frying, so even though I won’t be getting presents eight nights in a row, I’m looking forward to the week of December 9-16, when I will fry up some delicious latkes.
Many different foods are traditionally eaten during the holiday, but for me latkes really capture the essence of what Chanukah is about. For those who aren’t aware, the short version of the story is that when the Jews took back the Holy Temple in Jerusalem from the invading Greeks, they wanted to light the menorah to purify the temple. But the amount of oil they found was only enough to light the lamps for one night. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight nights. Today, in celebration of the miracle, Chanukah foods are cooked with a lot of oil.
Because I have become more health conscious over the past few years, I have attempted various healthier latke recipes. I’ve tried using less oil in the pan and I’ve tried baking them in the oven. But, like any cook has to do occasionally, I admit that these experiments were failures: the healthier versions never turned out. And so, I’ve decided that Chanukah is going to be one of those occasions where I make a conscious decision to indulge.
While it’s possible for some people to be 100 percent healthy 100 percent of the time, I’ve found that goal to be pretty unrealistic for myself and my clients. I follow the 80-20 ratio – I eat healthy 80 percent of the time, so that the 20 percent of the time I don’t, I don’t have to worry about it. I just get back on track with eating healthy!
Applesauce and Sour Cream
For Chanukah this year, I’m going to enjoy my fried latkes with the traditional accompaniments, and I’m not going to feel guilty about it. Applesauce and sour cream are easy enough to buy at your local store, but my friend Laura recently showed me how easy it is to make applesauce at home, and I’m a total convert! The apple-grower at my farmer’s market suggested throwing in a couple of pears, and this gave the applesauce a lovely flavor. If you don’t like pears, just leave them out, no big deal.
And while sour cream can be fine, I wanted to try a twist on the tradition and use Greek yogurt. I added in some chopped chives, which were a delicious compliment to the latkes. Yogurt is full of probiotics, which helps with digestion and are good for your gut. In a meal of fried foods, I figured I should give my digestive system all the help I can.
Chag Chanukah Sameach!
Serve with Chive Greek Yogurt or fresh applesauce, recipes below!
- 2 large potatoes, Russet, Yukon Gold or Sweet (or 2 cups shredded zucchini with 1/4 cup onion)
- 1 Medium yellow onion
- 2 organic eggs
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 1 Tsp salt
- Olive oil and butter (for the pan)
- Using a vegetable brush, scrub your potatoes under running water to remove any dirt. Dry.
- Shred the onion, or use a knife to finely mince it. Set aside.
- Shred the potatoes/zucchini and put in a large bowl (you’ll be using it for mixing, too).
- Using your hands, squeeze out as much water as you can from the potatoes/zucchini. Discard.
- In a small bowl, beat the eggs. Add to the mixture in the large bowl. Also add the flour and salt. Use your hands to combine.
- In a large frying pan (cast iron works great, if you have it), heat about 1/4” Oil and 2-4T Butter over medium-high heat. To test if the oil is hot enough, put a small piece of the latke mixture into the pan and when it sizzles vigorously, your oil is ready! Keep in mind that the temperature of the oil will drop as you add the latkes, but it should return to a sizzle fairly quickly.
- When oil is hot, scoop small handfuls or spoonfuls into the oil, and flatten them with your spatula.
- Cook on the first side until golden brown, then turn over and cook the other side until brown and cooked through.
- Let drain on paper towels for about a minute, otherwise serve immediately. They will get soggy if they sit too long!
- As you keep cooking, add more oil if needed. Wait for it to heat up before adding latke mixture!
- Serve immediately with Homemade Applesauce and Chive Greek Yogurt (recipes below).
Note: If you have a food processor, now would be a great time to use it! I don’t have one, so I used a stand-up cheese grater. Either works fine, though some people prefer one over the other.
- 1 cup organic plain Greek yogurt
- 1 bunch organic chives
- Chop the chives and mix into the yogurt
- Adjust the amount as needed for more or less people.
- Can be made ahead of time and tastes best chilled.
- 6 organic apples
- 2 organic pears
- Cinnamon, to taste
- Wash and dry the fruit, then peel. Don’t worry about peeling perfectly. (Oh wait, is that just me?)
- Core the fruit and chop into about 1” pieces. Smaller pieces will cook faster, longer pieces will cook slower and will result in a chunkier applesauce.
- Put the fruit into a heavy-bottomed pot, and add water until the fruit is about one-third covered. You can add more water for a thinner applesauce, less for thicker.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover.
- Stir occasionally, mashing up the fruit pieces as they soften.
- Continue to cook for about 1 hour. It’s done when it’s reached your desired consistency. Add more water if desired.
- Add cinnamon to taste (beware that too much will make your applesauce spicy!) and serve warm. Or, make ahead and serve chilled. Leftovers can be reheated to serve warm. I like to make big batches and keep applesauce in jars in the fridge, it lasts about a week.
Lindsay has a MA in Counseling Psychology and is a Certified Holistic Health Coach. She helps people to regain lost energy, conquer their cravings, discover their best selves, and live life to the fullest! The product of a health nut mother and a foodie father, Lindsay considers herself a healthy foodie. She is a big fan of both cooking and eating delicious food, usually with produce that comes from her weekly organic produce delivery box. Many of her recipes can be found on her blog www.zwickspicks.blogspot.com.