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Vegan Chanukkah Feast

As far as I'm concerned, the "Jewish festival of lights" should instead be the "Jewish festival of latkes". If you don't know what latkes are, a common description is "potato pancakes". Whether you are Jewish or not, here is a tasty treat you can enjoy on any night you feel like making a huge oily mess in the kitchen!

Latkes are a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish dish commonly served during Chanukkah. The ingredients are typical for the cuisine of central and eastern Europe, where the tradition began, and mainly consist of potatoes. They are traditionally fried (in oil), in honor of the miracle in the Second Temple of ancient Israel, which today we celebrate as Chanukkah. There are many variations of these tasty treats and many ways to serve them. Since so much of our faith focuses on "tradition", we tend to inherit our own special variation of these recipes from our elders, particularly our mothers. My mother's latkes are simply to die for, and as a kid I always salivated when she prepared them (and thankfully, she made them more often than just once per year!) Of course, the only "problem" with the family recipe was the use of egg. Thankfully, with a slight modification, I can now enjoy these delicious bites as a vegan.

Just because you are eating a meal that is fried in lots of oil doesn't mean you can't make it at least somewhat healthy. First, you should use canola oil, which provides essential Omega 3 fatty acids with almost no saturated fat (of course olive oil is a little better, but it tends to burn when used for frying at high temperatures.) Second, I used flax seeds to both replace the egg and infuse further short chain Omega 3's into the meal. And finally, rather than just eating dozens of latkes, we paired a moderate amount of them with a very healthy side of Grechen's homemade humus and raw vegetables. What a meal! Delicious, pretty healthy (especially by Chanukkah standards), and decisively vegan.

Making this recipe is pretty easy especially if you use the food processor for grating (coarsely, into long strips) the potatoes and onion

Ingredients:

  • 3 russet potatoes, peeled and grated into long strips
  • 1 medium yellow onion, grated into long strips
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 2 tbsp organic unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • canola oil for frying

In a large mixing bowl, combine grated potatoes, onion, flax seeds, flour, salt, and pepper. Mix well with a spatula. Transfer contents to large colander, and place on top of mixing bowl so that the mixture constantly drains. You want to put as little water as possible into the hot oil, and the mixture will release a lot of liquid over time.

Heat about 1/2? of canola oil in a nonstick skillet, between medium and medium-high flame. If you want the latkes to be very crispy, lean more toward medium-high but be careful not to burn the oil.

Scoop mixture 1/3 cup at a time and carefully place in hot oil. Carefully flatten by pressing down with a spatula - you are looking for no more than 1/2? thickness if possible. Cook each latke for 3-5 minutes on each side, carefully flattening again after flipping, or to desired level of doneness/crispiness. Remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain before serving. Makes about 12 latkes.

Some people like to garnish latkes with applesauce, or if they are not vegan, sour cream. Me? I like them au natural, perhaps because this is what I was used to growing up. Applesauce and latkes just seems like a really weird combination to me, but hey, to each his/her own! Enjoy these as the main course, as a side, or as a starter.

 

Posted in Newspaper Post Date 04/28/2017


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