Have a Happy Hanukkah with Potato Latkes

By Elana Iaciofano • December 03, 2018

Happy Hanukkah, everyone!

Hanukkah is an eight day celebration of lights in the Jewish religion and is traditionally celebrated with foods that use olive oil. Why olive oil? Because during the original ceremony in 165 BCE, a single vessel of pure olive oil miraculously burned for eight days.

We, at Colavita happen to think that olive oil is pretty miraculous, too… but we are biased.

We are also biased towards latkes, a traditional Hanukkah dish. Latkes are shredded potatoes mixed with onion, egg and flour and formed into a pancake. This pancake is then fried, in—you guessed it—olive oil!

To kick off the holiday, we at Colavita are flipping latkes. Two kinds of latkes, in fact!

I have to admit, I haven’t made many potato pancakes in my time. Regular pancakes, yes. But not so many latkes. I needed some taste testers and guinea pigs, so I hosted a latke party.

I chose a menu of two kinds of latkes: original and sweet potato. Original potato pancakes are often served with an apple sauce – a cool and sweet compliment to the warm, savory pancakes. But I wanted to get a little more intense, so instead I made a pear chutney.

A chutney is a sweet and spicy condiment made of fruits or vegetables with vinegar, spices, and sugar. Chutney originated in India, so I am taking some liberties with my ethnic food combinations, but I believe the flavors match well. Pears and brown sugar combine with tangy cranberries and vinegar (choose a kosher variety) and get an added kick from fresh ginger and spices. It’s an impressive way to jazz up regular old applesauce!

For the Sweet Potato Latkes, I wanted something smooth—smooth, creamy, and just a touch sour. I opted for crème fraiche, which happens to be kosher. I whisked it with just a touch of maple syrup (also kosher!), which added just a touch of sweetness and a beautiful caramel color.

I took one more culinary liberty with the sweet potato latkes by adding a pinch of Berbere spice. Berbere is a key ingredient in the cuisines of Ethiopia (yes, I know…back to mixing my food metaphors….), but this chili pepper, garlic, ginger, basil, and fenugreek mix goes so well with sweet potatoes and cinnamon that I couldn’t resist.

Finally, I started frying. And yes, I used Colavita Olive Oil to fry. If you are concerned about frying with olive oil, don’t be. Olive oil is actually perfect for frying. If you like science (and that’s what cooking is, after all!), The International Olive Oil Councilhas this to say about the matter,

“Olive oil is ideal for frying. In proper temperature conditions, without over-heating, it undergoes no substantial structural change and keeps its nutritional value better than other oils, not only because of the antioxidants but also due to its high levels of oleic acid. Its high smoking point (210ºC) is substantially higher than the ideal temperature for frying food (180ºC).”

And if you like resourceful and trusty food editorials, Bon Appetit recommends itespecially for shallow frying, like, oh you know…. LATKES!

The moral of the story is: fry in olive oil. Preferably Colavita.

And to continue our shameless plug for frying in olive oil, we should add that you can fry in our regular olive oil OR our extra virgin. Extra virgin olive oil will impart more of that amazing olive oil taste into your food, while the regular will be milder. You can decide!

Check out our recipes for Potato Latkes with Pear Chutney and Sweet Potato Latkes with Maple Crème Fraiche below.

If you need some more Hanukkah recipes, head on over to Jamie Geller where you can find treats such as this One-pot Braised Chicken

or this Spatchcocked Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon

Let’s not forget dessert…which will require more frying in olive oil. These glamorous Sufganiyot are totally worth the effort.

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