A Hormone-Balancing Remake of a Hanukkah Classic
Because my family is very reformed, and my interests have always directed me toward the appetizer table rather than the Hebrew school study group, I grew up believing that Hanukkah was the official holiday of the greasy potato.
Said appetizer table was always piled with latkes, pan-fried mini mounds of shredded potatoes. And the entree table was usually topped with kugel, larger mounds of shredded potato baked in a casserole dish in the oven. Needless to say, I also assumed having scabby knuckles by the end of Hanukkah season was an important cultural part of being Jewish.
About six years ago, my Hanukkah traditions changed drastically. Mainly, because my diet changed drastically.
After being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, I spent the better part of my mid-20s trying to get on board with the health hand I was dealt, making slow and steady changes to my lifestyle (which you can read about in my book, The Wellness Project). Those changes included giving up gluten. They did not, definitively, include giving up greasy potatoes. But on Hanukkah they tended to be a packaged deal.
It was only when I started to brainstorm ways to make Hanukkah healthier that I realized it already kind of was. And that’s thanks to the holiday’s true culinary mascot: healthy fats.
This is also, coincidentally, much closer to the biblical interpretation. The Hanukkah miracle involves a scant amount of oil that magically kept the menorah candle flames burning for eight days! But as I said, I was very preoccupied with the potatoes.
While enjoying copious amounts of olive oil may not have been the idea of a healthy choice during my childhood (the '90s) we now know the benefits of a high-fat, low-sugar diet. The key is to make sure we use our fats properly, according to their burning point.
Olive oil, though more historically accurate, is sadly not the best option for high-heat pan-frying. You’re better off using coconut oil as your latke fat of choice. Kugel, on the other hand, bakes in the oven at a much more moderate temperature and is historically made with an ample amount of olive oil.
In this version, I give the old greasy potato a break and, instead, use a combination of sweet potatoes and parsnips. Coconut flour makes this recipe gluten-free, paleo, and Whole30-friendly. And it’s served alongside even more healthy fats/Hanukkah-themed oils in the form of a homemade aioli. A healthy Hanukkah miracle!
Paleo Sweet Potato Parsnip Kugel With Homemade Spicy Aioli
Makes 8 servings
Time to prep: 10 minutes
Time to cook: 1 hour
- 1½ pounds sweet potatoes (2 medium), peeled and coarsely grated or spiralized
- 1½ pounds parsnips (2 large), peeled and coarsely grated or spiralized
- 1 large Vidalia onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
- 6 eggs, beaten
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for greasing pan
- ⅓ cup coconut flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup coconut oil, melted at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, and place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet inside.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the potatoes, parsnips, onion, eggs, salt, and olive oil until well-combined. Sprinkle in the coconut flour and baking powder and fold until just incorporated.
- Remove the pan from the oven, and brush it with olive oil. Add the potato mixture, smoothing it out so that it is as even as possible. Bake for 1 hour, or until the kugel is golden brown and crunchy on top and the center is tender.
- While the kugel is baking, make the aioli: In a small mixing bowl or food processor, whisk or pulse the egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, cayenne, and garlic until smooth. Working slowly, add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and whisk or pulse until incorporated. Repeat with 3 additional teaspoons. Once the oil is taking, slowly drizzle in the remaining olive oil, followed by the coconut oil, whisking or pulsing throughout. Once the mixture is thick, season with the salt.
- Cut into wedges and serve with the aioli.