Gallons of oil get heated up by Jews each year to fry latkes and sufganiyot for Chanukah. But with the holiday starting right after Thanksgiving this year, all that heavy food can really pile up. While I don’t dare suggest a latke-free Chanukah, there are many non-fried ways to enjoy oil for the holiday. Plus, the new varieties popping up in the grocery store (coconut, walnut and even avocado) just beg you to get creative with the oils instead of the latkes!
According to historians, olive oil was the oil used for light in the ancient holy Temple in Jerusalem. In keeping with tradition, your Chanukah menu should celebrate olive oil in as many ways as you can. Start off with a drink and make a Flask of Oil cocktail that’s gin-based and silky smooth thanks to the shot of olive oil. For the full flavor of olive oil, make classic Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, which lets olive oil be the star of the show. Be sure to use high-quality oil for this dish since it’s the primary ingredient in the sauce.
Another benefit of using heart-healthy olive oil in your food? It makes all of your favorite cakes and cookies pareve! Taking a lesson from the Italians, Olive Oil, Orange and Polenta Cake is moist, tender and full of bright, fruity flavors. Polenta in baked goods actually adds a lot of texture while the oil keeps it moist. (Note: It’s even better on the second day.) With cookie-swap season just beginning, bring a batch of Chewy Chocolate Olive Oil Cookies to celebrate Chanukah and the holidays with your friends. Use non-dairy chocolate chips to keep them pareve.
For those wanting to take a modern twist on the Chanukah oil tradition, pick up a jar of coconut oil to make delicious baked goods. Coconut oil is unique in that it is a solid at room temperature and becomes a liquid once heated, like butter. This means it keeps baked goods light and fluffy while also adding a hint of fruity coconut flavor. A simple way to ease into the coconut club is with one-bowl, mixer-free Coconut Oil Banana Bread. Or try out coconut oil in three-ingredient fudge. Melt the ingredients together, and pop them into the freezer for a homemade confectionary treat. Be sure to store this in your freezer or fridge as they start melting pretty quickly at room temperature.
Finally, what can you do with those other odd oils, like walnut or avocado? A small drizzle of these oils, which are typically more expensive and have a unique flavor profile, can go a long way in salads, with crusty bread or over some cheese, fruit or even vanilla ice cream (with a pinch of salt)! Or start with a basic olive oil-based cake and use a different kind of oil instead.
This year, let your friends do the latke frying and bring an alternative oil-celebrating dish to the table. Pareve yet full of flavor, these recipes might just be the start of a new Chanukah tradition.