Not just latkes: A Hanukkah dinner the whole family will love

Why stop at latkes? Celebrate the beginning of the festival of lights with a sit-down Sunday dinner your family will cheer for.
Image: Latkes
You have to have latkes on Hanukkah, but since the first night falls on a weekend, you may also want a nice full-on family meal, too. Westend61 / Getty Images
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By Katie Workman

While some Jewish holidays have full dinners associated with them, Hanukkah doesn’t have as prescribed a sit-down dinner situation. One of the most Hanukkah-connected foods of all is latkes. According to Jewish history, after the Jews reclaimed their desecrated temple in Jerusalem, they found only enough oil to light the lamp for one night, but by some miracle the lamp stayed lit for eight days and eight nights. That’s why Hanukkah lasts for eight nights, and that’s why the foods most associated with the holiday are those cooked in oil such as doughnuts and — most notably — potato pancakes or latkes.

But while you basically have to have latkes on Hanukkah, you may also want a nice full-on family meal, here is a menu featuring some traditional Jewish foods, and yes, potato pancakes.

Favorite Crispy Potato Pancakes (Latkes)

Serve your latkes with sour cream and applesauce, so people can choose or mix and match.

These savory pancakes are made with shredded potatoes, onions, eggs, and cooked in a generous amount of oil. If you are not worried about keeping kosher, you may also want to use some butter along with the oil to cook your potato pancakes. Though it’s not traditional, it sure is delicious. Sour cream and applesauce are the traditional toppings for the latkes, one or the other, or in our house, both. Again, if you are serving meat with the latkes, and keeping kosher, skip the sour cream. These can be served as an appetizer or a side dish. I like to serve a big old honking tray of these while everyone opens presents.

Beef Brisket with Wild Mushrooms

The mushroom sauce is what makes this brisket recipe extra special.

Jewish brisket is the featured main course at many a Jewish holiday dinner, and as Hanukkah falls at the end of the year, there couldn’t be a more perfect cold-weather entrée. The wild mushrooms take this recipe up a notch. You could chop up the leftovers and turn them into brisket-barley soup.

Serve the brisket with:

Honey Mustard Green Beans

A simple (5-minute!) honey mustard dressing transforms green beans into a flavorful side dish.

A simple string bean preparation, easy to sauté up at the last minute.

Mixed Greens Salad with Pears and Balsamic Dressing

This is a super-simple gorgeous salad recipe that features fresh pears and dried apricots - perfect for a holiday meal.

I love fruit in salads; it feels so festive and sophisticated, and there’s nothing to it. The balsamic dressing also features some citrus juices, which not only add flavor, but also keep the pear from turning brown too quickly. Little nuggets of dried apricots add tangy-sweetness and texture.

And if you are keeping kosher, then you might have to save the doughnut festival for another time … but whenever you choose to eat them, make them jelly doughnuts, also called sufganiyot. Try this recipe with two interesting possible filling twists!

More holiday tips and recipes

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