It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And certainly the oiliest. That’s right – Chanukah is here, and you know what that means: oily potato latkes, oily jelly doughnuts, and calories it will take more than a miracle to exercise away. Ever since I can remember, my family has hosted a Chanukah party, complete with all the expected Chanukah recipes. We never had a care in the world as to what those potato latkes were doing to our cholesterol, or what those sufganiyot meant for our physiques. Of course, today’s kosher consumer is much more health-conscious. I’m here to tell you that, yes, you can cook Chanukah foods that are delicious and healthy, delightful and wholesome, delectable and nourishing. If you’re planning on hosting a party, or even just cooking up some special dinners for your own family, these recipes will surely help keep your loved ones happy, healthy, and satisfied. Many of us enjoy a glass of wine with our festive meals so you’ll find that each of these recipes has been expertly paired with the perfect wine by Gary Landsman of the Royal Wine Corporation. Some of these wines are brand new releases for Chanukah, so keep an eye out for tasting notes on these newcomers to the kosher wine scene. From appetizer to main course to dessert, we have you covered for the whole festival of lights. And just how many healthy/delicious Chanukah recipes will you need for this enlightened holiday? I’ll give you eight guesses…
First up, we’ll start with an appetizer that will keep those cold December nights warm and bright: Moroccan Carrot Soup. You might not consider this a Chanukah food at first, but something about the sweetness of the carrots and the warm inviting orange color reminiscent of the candles burning nearby has always made this a Chanukah favorite. This soup will go perfectly with a Herzog Brut Rosé wine. If you make enough on the first night, it just might last you all eight!
Next up, recipe number two: an update on the traditional Greek Salad. It’s pareve, so you can serve it with any main course. The wine to serve with it is the brand new Baron Herzog Pinot Grigio. According to the Royal Wine Corporation, this is a “straw colored wine with perfume on the nose, followed by ripe pear, apple and tropical fruit notes. Light in body with a clean and elegant finish.”
Enough appetizers; it’s time to get to the heart of the meal itself. Of course, the main course will depend on whether you are going for dairy Chanukah foods or meat. We’ll start with dairy, since that way you can still have your low-fat sour cream with your potato latkes later on. For recipe number three, here’s delicious Bechamel Lasagna, which pairs well with the Capcanes Peraj Petita wine. Bechamel sauce is otherwise known as white sauce, and it’s an ancient European recipe – about 300 years old! Most commonly used with pastas and vegetables, it’s a great base for many recipes and is always a family favorite – especially with the kids. Make this a staple Chanukah food in your home, and you won’t hear any complaints.
Of course, what’s a Jewish holiday without a meat meal to sink your teeth into? Chanukah recipes numbers four and five are meat entrees that have a bit of a sweet holiday twist to them: Soy Braised Short Ribs (to be paired with Barkan Altitude 720 Cabernet Sauvignon,) and Cranberry Apple Brisket (to be paired with Jeunesse Reserve Napa Cabernet Sauvignon – another new wine, described as having “youthful aromas of fresh berries, cherries and a floral bouquet, finishing with a soft texture and a hint of sweetness”).
In case you haven’t noticed, we’re already up to recipe number six, and still no mention of potato latkes! Have no fear: this recipe for Potato Latkes With Spicy Mayo and Smoked Salmon will have your family and friends begging for more. They’re not your traditional potato latkes for sure, and this recipe will taste great with a Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc by its side. Be careful to stay conservative on the oil: there are about 120 calories per tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil (for more health information on the different types of olive oils, see Simone Stromer, MD’s article, “Are All Olive Oils Heart-Healthy?” ).
Here we are at last: dessert! Now, like I said, Chanukah foods don’t have to be unhealthy. But if there’s ever a time to indulge a bit, it’s dessert. Just keep those portions under control, and you’ll be alright. For a bit of a variation on the traditional jelly doughnuts, recipe number seven is Cake Doughnut Bread Pudding, to be paired with a Herzog Reserve Russian River Chardonnay.
Recipe number eight is as traditional a dessert as you can get: good old Baklava. Baklava is the perfect Hanukkah food: it’s Greek, it’s sweet, it’s sticky, and it’s delicious! Pair this with a Herzog Reserve Late Harvest White Riesling, and you’ll be on such a sugar-high you won’t even notice the holiday is almost over.
Well, there you have it. Eight Chanukah recipes and eight paired wines for the (mostly) health-conscious kosher cook. When it comes to eating right, moderation is always key. Holidays are certainly times for celebration and indulgence, but there’s no reason why you have to go a full week without giving your body nutritious fare. This Chanukah, may your homes always be filled with light, joy, and the aromas of a delicious gourmet meal. Happy Chanukah!