I went to Catholic school from 1st grade until I graduated from High School. 12 years that I am very grateful for. Most of my family is Catholic, there are a few Protestant Christians, a few that are Jewish, and some agnostics. It’s a great mix! I was always fascinated with the traditions of my Jewish cousins because they were different than those that we celebrated as Catholics and Protestants. It all started when we were children and my brother and I wondered why our Jewish cousins got Christmas AND Hanukkah presents! But as I grew older and experienced many Passover Sedars and other Jewish rituals, I became enamored with Jewish religion, culture, and the food! Last night was the 1st night of Hanukkah & I made a healthier version of a traditional dish that is eaten throughout these, as Adam Sandler sings it, “8 crazy nights!”
Cliffs notes version of the History of Hanukkah:
Under the rule of Alexander the Great, the Jewish people practiced religious freedom and blended into society. Over a century later, the successor of Alexander, Antiochus IV was in control of the region. Antiochus began to oppress the Jewish people by making them worship Greek Gods and forbade them from practicing their religion. He desecrated the Temple by raising an altar to Zeus and mandating pigs be sacrificed (a non-kosher animal). Most of the Jews were angry and a revolution began. The rebellion was led by the Maccabees Family and their armies. They were able to overthrow the Syrian armies in 165 B.C.E.. Judah ordered the temple to be cleansed and a new altar to be built. There was a problem, they only had one nights supply of oil needed for the Menorah in the Temple, which was supposed to burn all night–every night. They faithfully lit the Menorah and a miracle happened, the one day supply lasted for 8 days. Enough time to prepare consecrated oil and rededicate the Temple. An 8 day festival was declared to remember the miracle of the oil and rededication of the Temple. The name “Hanukkah” means “to dedicate”
Read more about the history of Hanukkah here
One of my favorite Hanukkah customs is eating foods that have been prepared with oil (fried!) such as latkes (potato pancakes) and Sufganiyah (jelly doughnuts). Are you drooling yet?! These fried foods are eaten to commemorate the miracle of the sacred oil.
This is a recipe for a healthier version of the traditional fried latkes, because I’d gain one pound a day if I was eating fried potatoes and doughnuts for dinner 8 nights in a row! These Latkes are full of flavor and are baked instead of pan fried.
Baked Potato Latkes
Ingredients (makes about 8 latkes)
- 1 large organic sweet potato, grated
- 1 large organic russet potato, grated
- 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons of minced rosemary leaves
- 1/4 cup grated or shredded Parmesan (optional)
- 2 eggs, beaten (OR) 2 vegan “flax eggs” 1 Tbs. ground flax + 3 Tbs. water = 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- coconut oil (OR) olive oil
- Scrub the potatoes and cut off any bad parts. I leave the peel on. Grate the potatoes by hand or in a food processor. Squeeze out the excess water from the potatoes. I used my hands and a strainer. You can also use cheese cloth, or a clean flour sack dish towel.
- Mince the onion, garlic, and rosemary.
- Lightly Sauté the garlic and onion with 1 Tablespoon of oil until onions soften. Use medium heat. Set aside.
- Place the grated potatoes in a large bowl. Add the garlic, onion, parmesan cheese, eggs, rosemary, salt, and pepper.
- Mix very well.
- Preheat the oven to 450° F.
Two Baking Options
- Spray a baking sheet generously with cooking spray or cover it with parchment paper.
- Form the mixture into balls and press them flat onto baking sheet. Drizzle, spray, or brush the patties lightly with oil.
- Bake for 30 minutes (on upper oven rack) or until the top of the latke starts to brown and the edges are crispy.
- spray casserole dish generously with cooking spray
- Spread the mixture evenly in the dish (but not very thick, or it won’t crisp up)
- Drizzle, spray or brush top of potatoes with coconut oil.
- Bake until the top starts to brown and the edges are crispy aprox. 30 minutes.
- To serve, cut into squares–like you would cut lasagna
Serve immediately with homemade apple sauce! These latkes are 100 calories each.
Note: Latkes are best served warm out of the oven. If you need to, reheat in the oven on a baking sheet at 375° F for about 5 minutes or until heated through.
Tomorrow I will share a homemade Organic Apple Sauce recipe that goes perfectly with these latkes.
Cheers! L’Chayim (pronounced “li-KHAY-eem”) which translates “to life”