A Chanukah Table + Menu

We're on the second night already. I anticipated kindling the light of Chanukah as impatiently as the kids did. I had plans to decorate, organize games and make new traditions, cook up a list of meals and fry up different types of sufganiyot. That's typical me, starry-eyed and eager to make the holiday my own perfect but reality swoops me back into a place that's true and even sincere. And I let it. I've learned that things simply fall into place and when they don't, we get more nights. That's why building a new lego set with my son made more sense than flipping latkas, it's where I was most needed. I might have even enjoyed it more than him.

I still have plans for things scribbled in different colored ink on scraps of paper. I am sure that this year I will get to the Halva Sufganiyot I've been dreaming about. And you will get my grandmother's Moroccan Sfinj recipe, it's never Chanukah without it. But for now I leave you with a menu to make your table the center of your holiday night. A place for everyone to gather as they share in the glow of the light and the blessings of the holiday.

This appetizer is everything you love about French Onion soup but in a convenient bite. Think deep, flavorful crostini.

French Onion Bread

yields 8-10 servings


3 tablespoons olive oil or butter

3 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced in half moons

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon herbes de provence or dried thyme

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 large french baguette

8-10 slices gouda, provolone or mozzarella cheese


  1. In a 10inch skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and using a wooden spoon stir them well to coat in oil. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 45-50 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions turn a deep amber color. Add the garlic, balsamic vinegar, thyme, salt, and pepper. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Preheat oven to 450F. Slice the baguette into 1 inch rounds. Spoon some caramelized onions onto each bread round and place enough cheese to cover the top without it hanging down the sides. Bake for 3-4 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Garnish with more hèrbes de provence. Serve hot. 

If frying didn't yield the most satisfying crunch, I'd never stand over a pot of bubbling oil. But still, I dislike hovering over the skillet, flipping and waiting. Here I've skipped that part by making one big latka to serve a crowd.

Bell Pepper and Leek Skillet Latke

yields 6-8 servings


2 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium leeks, white part only

1 bell pepper, diced

2lb russet potatoes, peeled and grated

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

sour cream, to serve

cilantro, for garnish


  1. Heat the olive oil in a 10 inch skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and bell pepper and season loosely with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened and golden, about 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside. Wipe the skillet clean with paper towel. 
  2. Grate the potatoes and firmly squeeze as much liquid out of them as possible. The drier the potato, the crispier the result. Mix the grated potatoes with the leek mixture. Season with parsley flakes, salt, and pepper and toss well.
  3. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet over medium heat. Add the potato mixture and press down firmly with a spatula. Cook, shaking the skillet occasionally, until the latke is a deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Gently loosen the edges and slide the latke onto a large plate. Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet. Place another plate onto the latke and flip, so the cooked side faces up. Glide the latke back into the skilled and cook another 10 minutes, or until a deep golden brown. Transfer to a platter and let cool before garnishing with a dollop of sour cream and chopped cilantro. Serve immediately or store in the fridge, wrapped, and reheat before serving.

A creamy pasta is always a good idea. And adding those greens makes it a good reason to call it balanced. Get this one on your menu, I promise you need it.

Spinach Alfredo Pasta

yields 6-8 servings


1lb rotini, penne, or fettuccine pasta, cooked

3 tablespoons butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried dill

3 tablespoons flour

1.5 cup vegetable broth

1.5 cup heavy cream

2 cups baby spinach, fresh or frozen

1/4 cup grated parmesan

chopped cilantro or parsley, optional, as garnish


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well, mix in 1 teaspoon oil to prevent sticking and set aside. 
  2. In a 5 quart pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add garlic, salt, pepper, and dill and cook until fragrant, stirring occasionally, making sure not to burn the garlic, about 1-2 minutes. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the broth and cook, whisking constantly, until well incorporated, about 2-3 minutes. 
  3. Stir the cream and cook until the sauce thickens, about 1-2 minutes. Add the baby spinach, and parmesan and cook until spinach wilts. If the mixture is too thick, add a splash of more broth. Stir in the pasta and gently toss to combine. Serve warm, garnished with chopped cilantro, if desired.

A little bit more involved but infinitely better than any gnocchi you've had. The sweetness of the sweet potato against the rich, buttery sage coating makes these worth the effort because you will not stop at a bowl. 

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

yields 6-8 servings



4 medium sweet potatoes (about 2.5lb)

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 cup ground parmesan

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 egg

2 cups flour, plus more for shaping

3/4 stick unsalted butter

10 sage leaves

1 clove garlic

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Parmesan cheese, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork and roast for 45-50 minutes, or until fully cooked. Cut the sweet potato in half and let cool. Scoop the inside out and place into a bowl. Add the ricotta, parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and egg and blend using an immersion blender or whisk. Add the flour in small quantity and blend until just combined. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours in the fridge or about 45 minutes in freezer.
  2. To shape the gnocchi, generously flour a work surface. Cut the dough in four and shape one quarter into a long rope that’s about 1 inch thick. Add more flour as needed to stop sticking. Cut the dough into 1 inch squares and push each square into the tines of a floured fork to form ridges, then place on a floured baking tray. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the gnocchi for 2-3 minutes. They’re ready when they float to the top. In a skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Once sizzling, add the garlic and sage and cook for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the gnocchi and stir to coat in butter. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate and garnish with grated or shaved parmesan. Serve hot.

*All recipes were developed for Binah Magazine and appeared in last year's issue