“Oh Chanukah, Oh Chanukah, come light the Menorah. Let’s have a party; we’ll all dance the Horah. Spin the whirling dreidels all week long. Eat the sizzling latkes, sing a happy song.” It’s Chanukah time…or Hanukkah…however, you spell it, it is a time for festivities and delicious food! Hanukkah is the holiday that celebrates the victory of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It is a holiday of miracles, when a tiny quantity of oil that should have only lasted one day burned for eight days. To commemorate this miracle, it is traditional to eat fried foods such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (doughnuts). While we probably think we can live on latkes and doughnuts, this is also a time for family gatherings and big dinners. Make it a true celebration by putting out a traditional and amazing feast of dishes that everyone will enjoy. Here are 8 ways to make your Hanukkah miraculously delicious.
Mushrooms make for some delicious appetizers and spreads. While I somehow survived a Jewish upbringing without ever tasting chopped liver, I wanted to come up with my own recipe for a friend who had recently switched to a plant-based diet. I kept it very simple: just mushrooms, walnuts and spices. The whole dish takes about 15 minutes or less to prepare. You can certainly add your own spin by using different types of mushrooms, spices, lentils or whatever ingredients you prefer. This makes a wonderful appetizer or dip for parties, holidays or whenever. Oh, and instead of calling it chopped liver, it’s now Mushroom and Walnut Pate.
Put a skillet over medium heat and add 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil. When the oil starts to ripple, add 10 oz. chopped cremini mushrooms and 1 small chopped onion to the skillet. Cook until they are browned and softened; it should take around 10 minutes. Mix in ½ tsp. dried thyme, ½ tsp. dried rosemary, ½ tsp. Herbes de Provence and ¼ tsp. black pepper. Don’t add any salt yet as salt takes the moisture out of the mushrooms and keeps them from browning. Transfer the mixture to a food processor. Add 1 cup of chopped walnuts, ½ tsp. kosher salt and 1 Tbs. water. Process until it’s a smooth paste. Taste for spice adjustments. I find I often have to add a pinch more of this or that until it’s just right. Refrigerate in a covered dish for a couple of hours. The flavors really intensify over time. Even better, make it the night before. The first time I made this, I tasted it right away and though it was ok. The next day I tasted it again and it was incredible. Serve with crackers or toasted bread. Yum! For more ideas, see 10 Ways to Make Awesome Vegan Dips and Spreads.
Another amazing finger food is also a great party or late-night snack. Instead of the usual popcorn or chips, put out a bowl of my Spiced Chickpeas. These are addictive! If you make them for a crowd, make a lot! Use any spice mix you like or make a variety of flavors. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss 3-4 cups of cooked chickpeas in 1 Tbs. vegetable oil, 1 tsp. smoked paprika, 1 tsp. ground cumin, ½ tsp. kosher salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Transfer the chickpeas to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and arrange them in a single layer. Roast for 15 minutes, shake the tray to toss them and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes until they are crisp and crunchy. Watch them carefully towards the end so they don’t burn. Transfer them to a bowl and watch them disappear! For other flavors, try these Roasted Buffalo Chickpeas and these Roasted Chickpeas with Chipotle and Lime.
I can’t even imagine celebrating a Jewish holiday without a bowl of hot matzoh ball soup. Serve up a bowl of tradition with a vegan twist with this Matzoh Ball Soup or this Vegan Matzoh Ball Soup with a Gluten-Free Option. Other traditional Jewish soups include Lentil Vegetable Soup and Split Pea Soup. Take advantage of the season and the bounty of pumpkins and winter squash to make thick, creamy soups like my Curried Pumpkin Soup with Apple Croutons, Acorn Squash Apple Soup, Apple Butternut Squash Soup, and this Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup.
With so many fried and rich foods, you want to be sure to have a fresh salad or two on the table to lighten things up. Rather than just making a simple tossed salad, use seasonal flavors and ingredients to turn an ordinary salad into an extraordinary one. My favorite winter-themed salad is my Apple, Cranberry, Arugula and Fennel Salad with an Apple Honee Vinaigrette. The spicy arugula, tart cranberries and anise-flavored fennel all fall into balance with the addition of sweet apples and a slightly sweet dressing. To make the salad: combine 6 cups of arugula and 1 head of fennel that has been sliced in a bowl. Core 1 large apple and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Arrange the apples on the salad along with ¼ cup dried cranberries. To make the dressing: combine 3 Tbs. apple cider vinegar, 2 tsp. vegan honey, 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil and kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Whisk until smooth and mix into the salad.
Other salads that will entice people to eat their greens include this Seasonal Sweet Fall Salad, Raw Massaged Kale with Fresh Figs and Oranges, Kale Salad with Apricots and Almonds and this Grilled Beet Salad with Almonds and Dried Cranberries.
Traditional entrees tend to be pretty meat-centric but it’s entirely possible to celebrate tradition with a compassionate touch. Brisket and roasts are common holiday dishes. Wow everyone with this Seitan and Mushroom Bourguignon, Braised Seitan Short Ribs in Spicy Chile Sauce, Seitan Pot Roast (which can also be made with this gluten-free version of seitan), this Portobello Wellington, Gluten-Free Vegan “Turkey” Cutlets and the Unturkey Roast. No holiday goes by without me making my Tofu with Apple and Onion Relish or Moroccan Tofu in Lemon-Olive Sauce over Spaghetti.
For less “meaty” entrees, try this Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf, Lentil Loaf, or this Vegetable Lentil Shepherd’s Pie. When holidays call for dishes that can feed a crowd, casseroles and pasta dishes come to the rescue. Try this Creamy Pumpkin and Spinach Lasagna, Ooey-Gooey Baked Ziti, Pumpkin Gnocchi in Spiced Butter Sauce with Lemon Cashew Cream and this Butternut Squash, Portabello, and Spinach Casserole with Vegan Sausage.
Side dishes are the best part of any meal, in my opinion. One dish that is always a hit is my Roasted Lemon-Thyme Brussels Sprouts. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place 2 lbs. of halved Brussels sprouts on a large baking sheet. Toss with 2 Tbs. olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes until browned, rotating the pan halfway through. While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, prepare the sauce. In a small bowl, combine the zest and juice of one lemon, 1 Tbs. agave nectar or maple syrup, 2 Tbs. tamari, 2 Tbs. olive oil, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 tsp. dried thyme and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Add salt and pepper to taste. When the Brussels sprouts are browned, transfer them to a serving bowl. Pour the lemon-thyme sauce over them and toss to coat. Serve while warm.
Other extra-special side dishes include my Potato and Onion Kugel with Sauteed Apples, Onion, Celery and Mushroom Stuffing, Sauteed Delicata Squash Rings, Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes with Braised Garlicky Kale, Spicy Lentil Salad, Yam Banana Mash, Sauteed Broccoli Rabe with Red Chile Flakes, Pomegranate Balsamic Roasted Vegetables , and another traditional Jewish dish, Tzimmes
There are a lot of reasons to welcome Hanukkah but for me, the thing I look most forward to is a week of eating latkes. Latkes are fried potato pancakes that are usually made with shredded potatoes and onions and dipped in apple sauce or sour cream. Every year I make dozens and dozens of latkes, traditional and creative kinds. To make Traditional Gluten-Free Potato Latkes: Mix 2 Tbs. ground flaxseed with 1/3 cup warm water in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes to thicken. Meanwhile, grate 2 large russet potatoes. Wrap them in a clean dishtowel and squeeze the excess liquid out of them. Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl. Grate ½ of a large yellow onion and squeeze the onion to remove the excess liquid. Add the onion to the potatoes. Add the flaxseed/water mixture to the bowl. This is your binder. Add 1 tsp. baking powder, ½ cup chickpea flour, 1 Tbs. fresh chopped parsley, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. kosher salt and ½ tsp. black pepper to the bowl and mix well. Use your judgment whether the mixture feels like it will hold; if it feels very loose, add more flour (you could also add some potato starch if you wanted). Taste the mixture to see if the seasoning needs adjusting.
Heat 2 Tbs. of vegetable oil in a large skillet. Using a tablespoon/soup spoon, carefully place spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the pan. Flatten each latke with the back of the spoon. Cook until browned, about 4 minutes, then flip and cook the other side, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer the latkes to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Sprinkle with salt. Make sure the oil stays hot but is not too hot. If the outsides of the latkes are browned before the potato cooks, it’s too hot. Add more oil as needed between batches. If you are not serving right away, place the latkes on a baking sheet with a cooling rack on it. Cover with foil and keep in a warm (200 degrees) oven. Serve with vegan sour cream or apple sauce (see next part).
Latkes are like a blank canvas onto which you can paint many delicious flavors. Use sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes to make these Sweet Potato Latkes with Chutney Sour Cream and Curried Apple, Onion and White Bean Topping. Add other shredded vegetables such as zucchini, carrots or yellow squash. Try these Harvest Latkes that are made with potatoes and rutabagas. Or you can leave out the potatoes altogether and make latkes out of zucchini, parsnips or my new favorite, Brussels sprouts.
Another way to play with latkes is to go global. I got ambitious a couple of years ago and made 5 different latke recipes, each with a different ethnic flavor profile and its own dipping sauce. My Global Latkes include: Italian Mozzarella Latkes with Marinara Sauce, Chinese 5-Spice Potato Latkes with Plum-Hoisin Dipping Sauce, Indian Curry Potato Latkes with Cucumber Raita, Spanish Potato Latkes with Chipotle Sour Cream and Greek Spinach, Potato and Vegan Feta Latkes with Tzatziki Sauce. It’s like celebrating Hanukkah around the world!
7. Sauces and Gravies
The most traditional condiment eaten during Hanukkah is apple sauce. Whether it is eaten alone, on top of kugel or on the side of a plate of latkes, a good appel sauce is required. My Fast and Festive Apple Sauce is rich, sweet from the apples and a little brown sugar, tart from a hint of lemon juice and warm from cinnamon and cloves. It smells as wonderful as it tastes. You may never buy jarred apple sauce again. Peel, core and dice the apples. Saute the diced apples in 1 Tbs. oil for 3-4 minutes. Add the ½ tsp. cinnamon and ¼ tsp. cloves. Cover the pot and let cook until the apples are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add water, if necessary. When the apples are tender, decide if you want to add sugar. If you do, start with ½ Tbs. of brown sugar and use up to 1 tablespoon. Cook until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat. Stir in 1 tsp. of lemon juice. Let cool. Refrigerate if you want to eat it chilled. For another recipe with maple syrup, try this Homemade Apple Sauce. Baby spinach, orange juice and chia seeds make this Raw Spring Power Applesauce a healthy choice.
Another sauce that should be on the table is cranberry sauce. Make my Easy Cranberry Sauce or try these other recipes: Orange-Infused Cranberry Sauce, Traditional Cranberry Sauce and Spiced Cranberry, Ginger and Pear Sauce. Please pass the gravy! There is nothing better than spooning thick, luscious gravy down over your potatoes or seitan roast. Check out my tutorial for making the perfect brown, white or mushroom gravy and then try these amazing recipes: Easy Mushroom Gravy and Vegan Thanksgiving Gravy. The only thing better than having rich gravy is also having biscuits to dunk into it. Try these Vegan Biscuits and Sausage Gravy, Gluten-Free Biscuits and Mushroom Gravy and my Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Biscuits with Soy Feta.
Do you have any room left for dessert? I sure hope so because Hanukkah calls for some sweet treats. Besides all the chocolate gelt and chocolate dreidels, it is tradition to eat sufganiyot or doughnuts. It’s easy to make your own doughnuts. My Gluten-Free Pumpkin-Spiced Glazed Doughnuts are delicious, soft, tender doughnuts with the warm flavors of autumn topped with a sweet pumpkin glaze. They are also baked instead of fried so they are somewhat healthier. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a doughnut pan with oil or vegan butter and set aside. In a mug, combine 1 Tbs. ground flaxseed and 3 Tbs. warm water. Stir and let thicken for 5 minutes. In a second mug, combine ½ cup pumpkin-spiced non-dairy milk and ½ tsp. vinegar. Stir and let sit. It will curdle. That’s what it’s supposed to do. In a medium-sized bowl, combine 1 cup gluten-free, all-purpose flour blend, 1 ½ tsp. baking powder, ½ tsp. baking soda, ½ tsp. kosher salt and 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice. Mix until everything is well combined.
In a large bowl, add 4 Tbs. vegan butter or oil and ½ cup brown sugar. Use an electric hand mixer to cream them together. Add the milk/vinegar combination and mix until smooth. Pour in the flaxseed gel and mix again until smooth. Finally, add 1 tsp. vanilla and mix that in. Add the dry ingredients in thirds to the wet ingredients. Mix with the mixer until the batter is smooth and thick. Use a spoon to fill the doughnut pan with batter ¾ full. The doughnuts will rise so don’t fill them to the top. Brush the tops with milk and bake for 20-23 minutes. The doughnuts should be firm but still spring back when you touch them. Allow the doughnuts to cool in their pan while you prepare the glaze.
In a bowl, combine ½ cup powdered sugar, 1 Tbs. pumpkin-spice non-dairy milk and ½ tsp. vanilla. Use the hand mixer to beat the glaze until it is thick and glossy. Set up a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet. When the doughnuts cool, remove them from the doughnut pan. Dip each doughnut in the glaze and set them on the cooling rack for 15 minutes or until the glaze hardens. Also try these Easy Baked Doughnuts, Baked Blueberry Doughnuts, and Pumpkin Spice Doughnut Holes for a healthier twist on the tradition.
Another traditional Hanukkah dessert is rugelach which are yummy cookies that are filled with either chocolate or fruit filling. If you want to seriously impress your guests, make my Chocolate Hazelnut Rugelach. A Jewish table usually has a challah on it so decorate yours with my Vegan Sweet Dessert Challah with Chocolate Drizzle. End the meal on a sweet note with this Apple of My Eye Pie with Gluten-Free Crust, Carrot Cake with Walnuts and Maple Cream Cheese Frosting, Vegan and Gluten-Free Pear Crumb Cake and a big bowl of this Sweet Potato Apple Pie Ice Cream.
Hanukkah is one of the most joyous Jewish holidays with singing, presents, games, story-telling and delicious food. At One Green Planet, we wish everyone a Happy Hanukkah filled with light, love and miracles.
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