Hanukkah, the festival of lights, is not a festival of light eating. You could celebrate this holiday — which starts on Nov. 29 — with a different dish or dessert for all eight nights!
Incorporate a variety of local ingredients all available now at tailgate markets throughout Western North Carolina.
As a celebration of the lamp oil and that burned miraculously for eight days, a Hanukkah menu is built around the magic of oil. Holiday favorites vary by region, but some universally loved dishes include fried potato pancakes (latkes) and deep-fried jelly donuts (sufganiyot). Traditions from Italy include pasta latkes, polenta latkes, or frittelle di riso (sweet rice fritters). Iraqi food cultures celebrate with savory sambusaks, which are deep fried pastry with chickpeas, cheese, potatoes or ground meat. Get creative—just make sure to fry it up!
For traditional latkes, pick up potatoes, onions, and eggs. Look for several varieties of potatoes and onions from farms such as Highgate Farm (West and River Arts Districtmarkets), Gaining Ground Farm (at North Asheville and River Arts District markets), Ten Mile Farm (ASAP Farmers Market), and Flying Cloud Farm, Full Sun Farm and Sleight Family Farm (North Asheville Tailgate Market).
If you are feeling adventurous and want to introduce some variations, inspired by Turkey or Calcutta, you could incorporate leeks, chicken and ginger. Local fennel would work well with rice if you’re leaning towards the Italian inspirations. Get ginger and rice from Lee’s One Fortune Farm at ASAP, West Asheville, and River Arts District markets. Ten Mile Farm and Velvet Morning Farms (both at ASAP Farmers Market) have fennel.
If you want to start your own North Carolina latke tradition, sweet potatoes are your answer. The state is the number one sweet potato producer in the United States. You can find some beautiful varieties in our region from many farms. Combine these with homemade applesauce made with apples for a touch of sweetness. (McConnell Farms still has apples available at West and North Asheville markets.)
If you’d rather focus on the pastry traditions, try deep-fried donuts using local eggs and filling with some local jams from farmers who have picked and preserved through the season. You could also stuff a pastry shell with local goat cheese and honey.
The beauty of Hanukkah eating is that you can choose your favorite local products and simply fry them up. It’s the perfect time of year to continue the season of gratitude, family, and oil!
At markets now you can also find turnips, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, lettuce, and hardy greens like kale, collards, chard, and mustard. Markets are also stocked with farm-fresh eggs, rice, pasta, bread, pastries, drinks, and prepared foods. There are more than 100 farmers tailgate markets throughout the Appalachian Grown region. Find them, as well as farms and other local food businesses, in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org.
Prepared by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.