Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, begins today, Dec. 7.
It celebrates the story of the Maccabees’ revolt against the Seleucid ruler who had destroyed their holy temple, and the miracle of the oil lamp that stayed lit for eight days. A time of joy, it includes excellent foods that anyone can enjoy.
Traditionally, Jews cook some foods in oil in commemoration of the oil in the rebuilt temple that stayed lit for eight nights even though there was only enough for one night. Those foods include potato latkes, jelly doughnuts and fritters. Of course, not everything is fried; other holiday foods can include beef brisket, roast chicken, noodle kugel and applesauce.
Every good meal deserves excellent side dishes such as this seasonal recipe for roasted root vegetables from toriavey.com which also includes oil. It would go well with any autumn or winter meal or holiday dinner.
1 pound orange sweet potatoes - 2 small or one large, peeled
¾ pound red potatoes scrubbed clean, peel on
½ pound red or golden beets, trimmed and scrubbed clean (red will add a pinkish color to the dish)
½ pound large carrots peeled and halved lengthwise
1 parsnip medium sized (4-5 ounces), peeled and halved lengthwise (if you can’t find parsnips, use more carrots)
½ red onion, peeled
6 whole garlic cloves, large size
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried thyme)
5 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 3 teapoons dried rosemary)
1 teaspoon ground cumin (can be omitted for Ashkenazi Pass over)
1 teaspoon kosher salt or more to taste
¼ teaspoon black pepper or more to taste
1. Place a rack in the bottom of oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Slice all vegetables into chunks roughly 1 ½ inches wide. The more similar the size of the vegetable pieces, the more evenly they will roast. Place cut vegetables and garlic cloves into a large mixing bowl. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, fresh thyme leaves, ground cumin, kosher salt, and black pepper. Stir until all vegetables are evenly coated with oil, spice and herbs.
2. Brush a large, rimmed baking sheet with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Spread the vegetables evenly on the baking sheet. Place the rosemary sprigs on top of the vegetables, evenly spaced across the sheet. Roast the vegetables in the oven for 15 minutes. Stir the vegetables, bringing the chunks from the outside towards the center and the chunks in the center out towards the edges. Return baking sheet to oven and continue to roast until the largest chunks are tender and the edges are starting to turn golden/dark, another 15 to 25 minutes.
3. Remove the roasted rosemary sprigs and stir the vegetables (some leaves of rosemary will remain, this is good). Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Vegetables can be served warm or at room temperature.