In December some of us celebrate Christmas, some of us celebrate Hanukkah, others Kwanzaa, and still others the Winter Solstice. Actually, I celebrate Hanukkah and the solstice, so the holidays are not mutually exclusive.
Almost all holidays are affiliated with traditional foods, and December celebrations are no exception. My offerings are simple: red, white, and green salads for the winter season/Christmas; potato pancakes (latkes) or potato “pudding” (kugel) for Hanukkah, and roasted red peppers with black and green olives for Kwanzaa. (These are the colors I found are associated with this holiday when I googled Kwanzaa.)
So whatever you are serving as your main course, feel free to use some of these salads and side dishes to brighten up your holiday table.
Colorful Holiday Veggies
(This recipe represents the white of snow, the green of pine trees, and the red of holly berries.)
Ingredients(organic whenever possible)
one large cauliflower
1-2 red bell peppers
1/2 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup plum vinegar
dash of garlic powder
1/2 tsp. fresh ginger or ginger powder
dash of soy sauce or Bragg’s Aminos
1. Wash all veggies well. Break caulifower into smaller flowerettes; wash and slice red bell peppers lengthwise and remove seeds and white membranes, then cut into slivers;
wash zucchini and cut into 1/2″ slices.
This is a photo of the veggies before they are steamed:
2. In a large steamer with the water already hot, add cauilflowerettes and cook for about 5 minutes; then add bell peppers and cook another 3 minutes; finally add zucchini and cook for 3-5 minutes. The idea is to have all the veggies be crunchy-tender, so depending on the size of your pieces, your steaming times may be a little more or a little less.
3. After the zucchini is added, use the remaining minutes to whisk together the dressing/marinade. (Note: Feel free to use your own dressing, so long as it is not creamy.)
3. Remove veggies from steamer and run cool water over them, right from the steamer if it has a center handle. Place in a bowl and pour dressing/marinade over them. Refrigerate until ready to use, although you can also serve them warm with the dressing right after cooking them.
Festive Fruit Salad
(I used this fruit salad at my party, with yogurt on the side.)
one red organic pear
one organic Granny Smith apple
2-3 organic kiwis
one cup organic raspberries or strawberries
(If frozen, then thaw and drain before adding to salad)
1-2 tsp. unsweetened dried coconut (“SNOW”)
1/4 cup unsweetened juice of choice (apple, cherry, pomegranate, grape, etc.)
1. Wash and cut all the organic fruit into bite sized pieces, removing seeds and stems. Kiwi will be the only one to have its skin removed.
2. Place all the fruit in an attractive bowl and pour a small amount of juice over the fruit.
3. Sprinkle on snow (coconut) and serve.
Note: If you have leftover salad, the next day you may have to add more juice to moisten it.
Potato-Vegetable Kugel (Pudding)
Note: Sometimes at Hanukkah the potato latke batter is poured into a baking pan and baked into a kugel. I added veggies and put them in a muffin tin to serve as personal-size potato kugel for a Hanukkah party. For traditional potato latkes, see Book, Film, and Website Reviews for Jane Kinderlehrer’s latke recipe. One of her variations suggests using a muffin tin. And I thought I was being original!!!)
8 medium white potatoes* (You may also mix in one or two sweet potatoes), scrubbed and cut into chunks for processor*
2-3 carrots, scrubbed and cut into chunks for processor
1/2 leek, washed and sliced
one garlic clove, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup flour or matzoh meal
2 tsp. baking powder
salt and pepper to taste
one T. oil
Oil for muffin tins
* I used organic potatoes with thin skins, so I did not peel them. If the skins are tough, you may want to peel them, organic or not.
1. In small batches, place potatoes, carrots, leek and garlic in the food processor or food mill and grind or grate. As you finish each batch, place the veggies in a colander over a bowl to allow the liquid to drain.
2. When all the veggies are grated, press them down with a spoon or your hand to remove any excess liquid.
3. In a large bowl, first crack and whisk the eggs. Add a dash of salt and pepper and one tablespoon of oil. **
4. Remove drained veggies from colander and add to egg mixture, combining well. Finally, add baking powder and mix again. The latke mixture should be thicker than regular pancake batter because the veggies are coarse and grated. If the batter is too runny, add a little more flour or matzoh meal.
5. Spoon batter into oiled muffin tins about 1/2 full. (If you fill them up, the centers will be too wet.)
6. Bake at 350-375 degrees F. for about 30-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the kugel muffins are crisp around the edges. Serve with sour cream, yogurt, or applesauce (as in photo).
Yield: For my first batch I made the muffins too large, so I reduced the portion for the second batch to bake all the way through, so I am uncertain of the yield, but more than one dozen and less than two.
Marianted Peppers and Olives
This recipe is a variation of one served at Thanksgiving, thanks to Jay, my son-by-marriage. I added red and black olives, because Kwanzaa colors are red, black, and green. I was unable to buy fresh, organic red peppers, so I purchased fire-roasted organic red peppers from Mediterranean Organic.
(I gave several options for the herbs and seeds. Choose those you like.)
1/2 cup Mediterranean Organic fire roasted red bell peppers
1/2 cup pitted black olives, drained if canned
1/2 cup pitted green olives, drained if canned
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary or parsley
1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano or dill
1/2 tsp. dill seeds and/or fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds or dry mustard
1 t. wine vinegar or plum vinegar
2 T. olive oil
1. Drain peppers, cut into bite-sized pieces, and place in a bowl; add olives. (I usually purchase mine from an olive bar. If canned, remember to drain first.)
2. In a small bowl, whisk together oil and vinegar and pour over peppers and olives.
3. Grind or crush the seeds and herbs in a food processor, nut grinder, or with a mortar and pestle. Add to pepper and olive mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
4. Yield: 1 1/2 . This keeps as long as one week in the refrigerator.
(Suggestion: Serve with crusty bread or crackers.)
Recipe Note:The organic roasted red peppers are featured in Products & Services.
Photo Note: The giraffe salad server set is a birthday present from my friend Amparo. She knows I collect giraffes. Soon I will have a giraffe collection worthy of the Smithsonian!