Meatless Mondays: Hanukkah Edition

Notes on the Spring Holidays, III, [Hanukkah]
Charles Reznikoff – 1894-1976

In a world where each man must be of use
and each thing useful, the rebellious Jews
light not one light but eight—
not to see by but to look at.

From The Complete Poems of Charles Reznikoff. Copyright © 1976 by Charles Reznikoff.
Used by permission of Black Sparrow Press, an imprint of David R. Godine, Publisher, Inc.

I said in an earlier post that my family had been celebrating Hanukkah this year with a series of Hanukkah-related meals each night, along with candle lighting and a reading and/or blessing. Why? After all, we aren’t Jewish. We don’t even have a menorah. I just decided that during these times that seem rather dark, but we can’t gather together to celebrate the holidays together, that we should recognize all of these festivals of lights at home through our meals, if nothing else.

I’m not an expert on Jewish cooking, so I’ve been looking up recipes and cooking some new things for us. We are not strictly kosher, and we are not performing rituals (like lighting the menorah) that we haven’t seriously studied the meaning behind the practice. But we are trying to honor our understanding of the holiday, which to me is the triumph of faith over circumstances and, of course, the bringing of light to the world.

The first night I made baked chicken with vegetables, then a baked salmon with peas and home-made applesauce. The next night we had Za’tar chicken with homemade Israeli-style hummus (except I added chipotle, which isn’t very Middle Eastern), toast, and salad. The following evening we had wine-braised short ribs, roasted asparagus, and the legendary latkes.

This brought us to the Meatless Monday. For lunch, I made freshly-grilled pita bread with some of the leftover hummus–the middle eastern answer to Avocado Toast.

The picture doesn’t look nearly as good as it tasted!

For dinner, I made potato pirogues, which I haven’t made for forever (not from scratch–I used frozen ones from the Mediterranean market), but I don’t know WHY because they were DELISH!

I also made my NOT cream of broccoli soup and served the pirogues in a NOT brown butter (Earth Balance instead) onion sauce along with some fresh carrots from the Downtown Cary Farmers Market. It was so go we ate it all up (sigh…no leftovers).

So my Meatless Monday was actually a vegan meal!

I followed it up tonight with another vegetarian meal, although it had cheese so not vegan. This was spinach kugel (a lightened version compared to most of the traditional recipes I looked up) with a salad of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and scallions, ALSO all from the Farmers Market!

The next two nights I’m going to make chicken soup (from the bones of the roast chicken from the first night) and then brisket.

So we’ve been honoring Hanukkah in a way that feeds our bodies as well as our souls. Not only has this brought light to our lives during this week, I think it will bring a couple of new vegetarian meals into my regular meal rotation! So that’s a gift that keeps on giving….

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